Sona Build Guide by MancerNecro
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Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Introduction to Sona
Alright, I haven't been on Mobafire long or playing League of Legends a lot, but there are a few champions that I have played and immediately liked. Sona was one such champion that appealed to me, namely because she was a music-wielding champion that can really make a difference in teamfights, despite having very passive skills.
Sona is very different from the other support champions, she is a passive area of effect (AoE) support champion. Her skills are not very game changing on their own - they are very passive, and the effects can only be felt over a certain period of time. For example, her heal spell, Aria of Perseverance, heals very little, especially compared to Soraka's heals, but gives bonus Armour and Magic Resistance (MR). The bonus of 15 points into each stat (or 30 for the champion being healed) does not make a gamebreaking change on activation, but stacks up over time in preventing more damage than what you can heal from being inflicted. Likewise, Sona's Hymn of Valor provides a bonus of 20 to Attack Damage (AD) and Ability Power (AP). Although the damage that is dealt on activation of Hymn of Valor is not massive, the AD and AP bonuses will help your teammates deal a lot more extra damage than can be done with the activation of Hymn of Valor. Even better, her auras affect all champions nearby, so in teamfights, it will aid everyone. The skills will not make a difference on their own, but throughout the course of an entire teamfight, they will help your team mitigate and deal just enough damage to outlast the opponent.
So, Sona is the champion for you if you don't mind taking a less active role in teamfights, just sitting in the back and spamming your skills and auras like nobody's business while your team takes the aggressive role of battering the enemy into oblivion.
Introduction to the full support Sona
Why full support Sona? It is because Sona's skills do not scale very well with AP. Her main source of damage is her Power Chord which does not scale with any AP at all (only with levels). Her healing spell, Aria of Perseverance has only a 25% AP scaling, meaning that a Sona stacking an insane amount of AP will not make your heals a lot more effective than a Sona that does not stack AP. The Sona that stacks AP will, however, run into a lot more mana problems. Also, Sona's Song of Celerity does not scale with any AP at all, so having a lot of AP will not allow you to better support your team using your Song of Celerity.
The only skills that Sona has that stacks well with AP are her Hymn of Valor and her Crescendo. Hymn of Valor has a 70% AP scaling while Crescendo has a 80% AP scaling. However, these two skills are not ideal for doing damage with. Her Hymn of Valor can only hit 2 nearby targets, and because you cannot choose who the spell targets, it is not a really reliable nuking spell. Her Crescendo is usually used as an AoE stun to cancel channeled spells or ultimates or to disable the enemies so that your team can quickly nuke and eliminate the most dangerous enemy from the teamfight. It is better not to spam it or use it solely to deal damage as the AoE stun can provide a crucial advantage in a teamfight. Therefore, as both of Sona's skills that scale with AP are unreliable for dealing damage and with her main burst combo not scaling with AP, AP Sona really isn't the best way to go with her.
The full support Sona build that I will talk about here packs a lot of mana regen and some cooldown reduction (CDR) to allow her to support your team fully by keeping up multiple auras at once. Her passive, Power Chord, allows each of her auras to persist for 2 seconds after a new aura is activated. The CDR in the core build (36%) causes the cooldown (CD) on each of her auras become 4.48 seconds long. Because of these, you are able to consistently keep two auras on your team with only a gap of 0.48 seconds between each aura. This is done by choosing and alternating the activation of two auras continuously. This not only allows you to constantly keep two auras on at the same time. It also allows you to deal sustained damage (when Hymn of Valor is activated) and healing (when Aria of Perseverance is activated) while the teamfight goes on, giving your team a major advantage in terms of damage and healing.
Pros and Cons
I go with a 0/6/24 mastery build on Sona in the season 2 mastery trees.
The masteries I get are:
Resistance Level 3
Hardiness Level 3
Summoner's Insight Level 1
Expanded Mind Level 3
Meditation Level 3
Scout Level 1
Greed Level 4
Runic Affinity Level 1
Wealth Level 2
Awareness Level 4
Sage Level 1
Intelligence Level 3
Mastermind Level 1
The 6 points in the defence tree is gotten for the 6 points of Armour and MR that very slightly improve your survivability in-game. This is essential, especially in the early game, because Sona is a very squishy champion and can be very easily taken down (almost instantly) if you do not have any survivability.
In the utility tree, all the masteries that help out with her supporting (mana, mana regen and CDR) are taken. These masteries make it easier for her to fulfill her role in the team. Also, since supports are usually the ones warding their lanes or important map objectives, Scout is gotten for the improved ward vision range. Greed and Wealth are taken to increase the amount of gold that you are able to get in the game, allowing you to buy more wards and to complete your gold generation items faster. Awareness and Sage are gotten so that you are able to keep up with the rest of your team in levels even after having to leave your lane to ward the important map objectives multiple times. As Sona is able to get a lot of assists easily (just by activating auras in the teamfight), Sage 's experience bonus will stack up very quickly. Summoner's Insight , Runic Affinity and Mastermind are gotten for all-round utility.
Some players would say that Runic Affinity , Wealth and Sage are not absolutely necessary on Sona. I agree with these reasons as well, because Sona would not be the prime choice for buffs and the bonus experience and gold from Wealth and Sage can be quite negligible. In that case, I would recommend spending the 4 points spent on these masteries on the Swiftness mastery for the extra movement speed that could make or break a teamfight (during kites, chases and escapes).
Also, for players attempting to head for a more offensive build, I recommend taking all 6 points from the defensive tree, the 1 point in Runic Affinity and 2 points from Intelligence for 4 points in Mental Force , 4 points in Sorcery and a point in Arcane Knowledge for the extra AP and magic penetration for the extra punch from your Hymn of Valors and Power Chords while harrassing. Why did I choose to take 2 points from Intelligence ? It's because you will be getting another 4% CDR from Sorcery for the 4% you sacrificed by taking 2 points from Intelligence , so your other utility tools are not affected by choosing to go on a more offensive build. You can choose to take points from Wealth or Sage too if you think that they are not important or are negligible.
The runes that I recommend on Sona are 9 Greater Mark of Armor, 9 Greater Seal of Replenishment, 9 Greater Glyph of Magic Resist and 3 Greater Quintessence of Gold. These runes provides a lot of early game dominance and sustainability (8 Armour, 13 MR and 3 mana regen per 5 seconds). Sona's main problem is her early game squishiness and mana issues. The rune build seeks to strengthen Sona's early game and enable her to better babysit the carries in the lane.
The reason why I do not choose Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration over Greater Seal of Replenishment is because towards lategame/endgame, you would already have gotten your core build which would provide you with lots of mana regen. The greater amount of mana regen that Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration gives at lategame/endgame would not be as helpful as the greater amount of mana regen that you can get during the lane phase from Greater Seal of Replenishment. The extra mana regen during the lane phase will allow you to use more spells (both in harrassing the enemy carry and in healing your team's carry). This improves your lane control and can allow your team's carry to outfarm the other team's carry and obtaining a significant advantage for your team in lategame/endgame.
The Greater Quintessence of Gold is gotten to help you in purchasing your core build and situational aura item. As my core build is slightly more expensive than other supports' core builds, the extra gold you can generate with these Quints will help you gain enough gold for wards and items.
Other notable runes:
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: These runes give you magic penetration which will allow you to harrass slightly better with your burst combo. The magic penetration offered by these runes causes your playstyle to shift towards a more aggressive one, focusing more on controlling the lane and zoning your opponents out of experience and gold range rather than on a sustaining lane phase. Getting 9 of these runes are only recommended if you are skilled enough to successfully zone your opponents as if you make even a slight mistake, the consequences will not be as forgiving.
Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration: Yes, I said that the mana regen this seal offers is not going to be as useful as the mana regen that the Greater Seal of Replenishment offers. However, some might prefer the extra mana regen during lategame/endgame when the slightest bit of extra mana regen you can get might be able to make the greatest difference in a teamfight. This requires a slightly higher level of play as well since you have to make do with less spellcasts to harrass and heal during the lane phase.
Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction: This glyph can be gotten if you want to be able to hit maximum 40% CDR right after getting your core build. To do so, you need to use 7 of these runes. Doing so allows you to have only a 0.2 second gap between auras. The small amount of CDR might not seem like much, but in an extended teamfight, the team with greater attrition will win out and this difference could mean the difference between a win or loss of a teamfight. The difference, however, is quite insignificant such that I actually prefer getting MR Glyphs instead for more survivability.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist: These are an alternative to the Greater Glyph of Magic Resist. It offers 2.7 MR each at level 18 (24.3 MR total). If you choose this glyph, you are getting almost double the amount of MR during lategame/endgame for less MR during the early game.
Greater Glyph of Regeneration: These runes can be used to grant extra mana regeneration during the laning phase for your harrassing and sustaining your carry. It is only recommended for newer players because the extra mana regen is usually not needed unless you use your skills excessively. Also, getting these runes means you are sacrificing a little bit of defences for it. Also, getting 2 of such runes may be possible if you plan on topping off your CDR with 7 Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction.
Greater Quintessence of Health: These quints grant 26 HP each (78 HP total). With Greater Mark of Armor, Greater Glyph of Magic Resist and your defensive masteries, this 78 HP translates into a lot more effective HP for Sona. These give you slightly more HP so that you can last longer in lane. If you feel that the extra gold generation from Greater Quintessence of Gold is not necessary, these quints are a nice alternative that greatly increases your lane dominance during the lane phase.
The two optimal summoner spells for supports are Clairvoyance and Flash. Clairvoyance is a necessity to keep a lookout for the enemy jungler and to warn your teammates of an expected gank from the enemy jungler. Each team should have at least one summoner getting Clairvoyance and it is usually the support who has to take it. Flash is an allround utility spell, allowing you to either Flash to safety during escapes or Flash into range of an enemy to slow them with your Power Chord or to get into position to use Crescendo on the opposing team.
However, due to the nerf on Flash, Flash is no longer the best second optimal spell for supports. It is now possible for supports to use either of these summoner spells:
Ghost: This is the closest and best alternative to Flash. It can be used in the same way as Flash, both offensively and defensively. However, you are unable to Flash or go over walls quickly with Ghost, so it is not as useful as Flash can be. However, after Flash's nerf, I believe that Ghost deserves a mention.
Clarity: Because of Sona's sustaining nature (in healing) it is possible to take Clarity so that your team does not have to recall after teamfights or Baron. You can just slowly heal them up to full health with Aria of Perseverance while pushing your team all around the map quickly with Song of Celerity. Popping Clarity with your team around you will allow you to refill the mana of all the members in your team without them having to recall. This allows Sona to act as a mini-mobile-fountain for your team.
Promote: This summoner spell is quite a viable one. It aids your team in pushing during lategame/endgame and helps you to control the lane during lane phase as well. The only problem with using Promote during the lane phase is that you might overextend your lane a bit making yourself quite susceptible to ganks from the enemy jungler. However, if you ward enough and think that you can escape from any ganks, you might be able to use Promote constantly and push your lane to the opponent's turret so that the opposing team's carry cannot farm well. Doing so also allows you to put a lot of pressure on the opposing laners. Also, during midgame, usage of Promote can allow your team to quickly push and down turrets before the opposing team can react.
Heal: With the buff on Heal, it is now entirely plausible to take Heal into games. This provides a more stable and burst healing to your team that Sona does not have, due to her Aria of Perseverance being a sustaining heal. If you do take Heal, put a point from Resistance into Summoner's Resolve for the extra 15% healing done by Heal.
Cleanse: The buff on Cleanse makes Cleanse a viable pick as a summoner spell against teams that pack a lot of crowd control effects (CCs). Also, as Cleanse is now able to remove Ignite, it can be a good defence against Ignite users who can otherwise negate and weaken your sustaining heals. Also, because Sona lacks a hard escape mechanism, getting caught by CCs would mean instant death for her. Cleanse would then be a decent escape mechanism against CC heavy teams.
Teleport: This allows you to quickly return to lane after recalling to purchase items and wards, strengthening your lane dominance. Also, as you can Teleport to wards, minions and allied fixtures (like turrets), Teleport can enable you to set up a gank by Teleporting right into a bush without your opponents' knowledge. Also, if Sona is ever separated from her team during lategame/endgame (which you should not be anyway), you can quickly Teleport to your allies' location to get to them faster. However, Teleport falls in usefulness quickly (as soon as you add points into Song of Celerity which provides a huge amount of mobility to you AND your team, making Teleport not as optimal of a summoner spell as the other picks although it deserves a mention.
Sona's passive, Power Chord is very self-explanatory. However, take note of when her auto-attack will cause Power Chord to activate (can be seen by Power Chord's symbol appearing where the aura effects appear on the screen) as you do not want to waste a Power Chord activation on a minion, or use the wrong Power Chord at the wrong time. Power Chord can be saved for later usage by not autoattacking at all. Using skills when Power Chord is ready will not reset it. Another thing to note is that Power Chord won't activate if you are silenced, so watch out for that nasty status.
This is the skill you will be using in the early game to harrass and zone out your opponents in the maining phase. When your Power Chord is at two charges (or fully charged), go near the enemy, ensure that the target champion is within your autoattacking range (if there are minions nearby) then, press Hymn of Valor followed by right clicking the target champion immediately to autoattack him. You will do quite a significant burst amount of damage.
Late game, this skill and its Power Chord will not deal any significant damage, and will only be twisted with her Aria of Perseverance for the persistant aura effects.
Early game, this skill's heals will heal decent amounts of health, and due to it being quite spammable, will fill up your ally's HP very quickly. Be a little more conservative when using a Level 1 (or 2) Aria of Perseverance, as its mana cost is quite high and if spammed, will deplete your mana much faster than you can regen. Once you get some of your mana regen items, you can start using it more liberally.
Late game, this skill's heals will not be very noticeable or significant, but because of the amount of CDR and mana regen you will be getting, alternating between this skill and Hymn of Valor in teamfights will very quickly fill up your allies HP. At late game, your mana issues would be settled so much that spamming skills continuously will not cause your mana to deplete (I managed to sustain my mana so much that I did not need to recall at all in lategame, except for items, and only if I am not needed in a push or teamfight). Also, this skill's Power Chord is very useful on your opponent's AD carries to significantly reduce the amount of damage they can deal to your team.
This skill's activation bonus is one of the ways in which you will become very tanky for a support, since the doubled Armour and MR bonus will always be on you when you cast the skill.
This skill is mainly used for the activation bonus, when your team is heading out to push or to kite or chase enemies in a teamfight. Level 1 Song of Celerity's speed boost is quite significant, and combined with your Shurelya's Reverie's active, will give your team the speed they need for that slight edge. In a teamfight though, this skill will hardly be touched, unless the extra speed is needed for a chase/escape.
This skill is also why you don't really benefit from Teleport, since placing even one point into this skill with some boots completely makes Teleport obsolete, although having Teleport in combination with this skill gives you EVEN MORE mobility that you can be anywhere that you are needed in seconds.
The Power Chord is also very useful in chases and escapes, by slowing down the opponent for a short while, giving your team an even greater advantage in the chase or escape. When you are alone and escaping from your opponents, do not use your Power Chord. Using it will close the distance between you and the chaser for a short moment, allowing them to be able to use a gap closing move on you if they have one.
Also, this skill's activation effect works on allied minions, so it helps greatly in pushing lanes too.
If it was not clear enough in the description, this skill is a skillshot AoE stun (dance means stun, just that the champions are made to do their /dance poses). This is really useful in interrupting certain channeled ultimates (looks at Katarina, Miss Fortune and Nunu). Save it for when these enemies use their channelled ultimates and laugh as their powerful ultimates are almost effortlessly interrupted. If the enemies do not have any channelled ultimates, hold on to Crescendo and use it when a good opportunity arises (in a teamfight, it's when you can hit about 3-4 of the enemy champions in it). Might require Flash or even Ghost AND Flash to get into a good position to Crescendo.
Early to mid game, this skill can be used to gank or to counter gank. In lane phase, coordinate with your partner with your Power Chord ready then, jump out, activate Crescendo, Hymn of Valor, Power Chord hit, and let your partner take away that champion's remaining health for the kill (you really should only be assisting as you are support, unless your partner does not care for the kill). To counter-gank, as in ganks, your opponent's are likely to group up, hit them with a quick Crescendo just as they initiate to either pull back a little and prepare to counter-initiate or to eliminate the opponent's carries from the fight so that their gank fails.
The skill ranges shown when you hover your mouse over each of Sona's skills are misleading. The true range of all of her skills is actually that of her Aria of Perseverance (having a range of 1000). That is the range that all of her auras will reach, enabling you to buff your team with your auras while staying relatively safe all the way at the back.
This is the range of Sona's Aria of Perseverance:
Proof of Hymn of Valor's maximum range:
However, that is only Hymn of Valor's maximum range. The range at which Hymn of Valor grants priority to enemy champions over enemy minions is smaller, a range of 700, which is exactly the range shown when you hover your mouse over Hymn of Valor.
Proof of the range of Sona's Song of Celerity:
Here's proof that Song of Celerity's active can target minions:
Crescendo has a range of 1000 and is a skillshot. It has a fairly wide range although do take note that the edges of the yellow notes that appear are not part of the area of Crescendo's effect (it's only a small line though).
Also, all of Sona's skills can be fired across walls and other obstacles as long as there's a correct target for the spell visible (or just in range for Crescendo, since it's a skillshot).
Here are the proof:
*These screenshots are taken from custom games that I have made with my friends just for the purpose of taking these screenshots, so they do not mirror any actual gameplay (just look at my item build).*
Level 1: Hymn of Valor (1)
Level 2: Aria of Perseverance (1)
This is what I usually get at the start of a game. Aria of Perseverance, after its nerf, is not really mana efficient, even at its first level, as the amount of HP it heals is very minimal, which is why I get Hymn of Valor first. Also, Hymn of Valor's Power Chord is able to deal out a large burst in level 1 teamfights, which is your team might engage with the opponents' team to attempt to safeguard and protect your jungler's neutral buffs. For the burst, just go Hymn of Valor --> Power Chord --> normal autoattack (if you are still within range of an enemy).
After a level 1 teamfight, or just by knowing who your lane partners are, you would be able to determine whether to take a more offensive or defensive build with Sona. The effects of this split in skill builds can only be felt during the laning phase, as the builds are more or less similar during midgame (evens out at level 13), and exactly the same at lategame/endgame. If your opponents are hard-hitters, go for the defensive build, as the extra defense from a higher level of Aria of Perseverance might be necessary. Examples of hard hitters are Caitlyn, Vayne and Graves. However, take note that this build is less mana friendly on your heals although with stronger heals, you would not need to use Aria of Perseverance as often. If your partner is a hard hitter, or if you and your lane partner have managed to zone out your opponents, go for the offensive build. The offensive build is a more risky build and you are only getting Song of Celerity at level 8. You will also have a weaker heal and defensive aura, but it should help your partner get first blood and kills better because of the damage boost you will be granting him. So, choose between these two builds at your own discretion.
A note is that since Sona's main harrass damage output is still from her Power Chord, so a lower level in Hymn of Valor will not affect much of her harrass damage.
Level 3: Hymn of Valor (2)
Level 4: Aria of Perseverance (2)
Level 5: Song of Celerity (1)
Level 6: Crescendo (1)
Level 7: Hymn of Valor (3)
Level 8: Hymn of Valor (4)
Level 9: Hymn of Valor (5)
Level 10: Aria of Perseverance (3)
Level 11: Crescendo (2)
Level 12: Aria of Perseverance (4)
Level 13: Aria of Perseverance (5)
Level 14: Song of Celerity (2)
Level 15: Song of Celerity (3)
Level 16: Crescendo (3)
Level 17: Song of Celerity (4)
Level 18: Song of Celerity (5)
Hymn of Valor is maxed first for the extra damage it provides your lane partner (and yourself, via the burst combo) in the laning phase. Previously, I suggested getting Song of Celerity at level 8 because I felt that getting a level 2 Aria of Perseverance is essential for lane sustain, to make the cost of using it worth the amount of HP it restores. On further experimentation, losing out on that one level of Hymn of Valor does not hurt Sona as much as not having that second level of Aria of Perseverance. Getting that early Song of Celerity allows you to go recall and walk back to lane faster as well as to get around the map to ward faster. This makes laning phase hell for your lane opponents and is still able to help your team during ganks and fights well.
Before the nerf to Sona's Aria of Perseverance, I used to get the third point in Aria of Perseverance at level 7, for a greater amount of Armour and MR given by the aura. This is because the difference between a level 3 and a level 4 Hymn of Valor is not as significant as the difference between a level 2 and a level 3 Aria of Perseverance. However, because of the nerf to Aria of Perseverance, the extra Armour and MR gained from having another point in Aria of Perseverance is not as significant. Also, since at level 2, Aria of Perseverance has the same mana cost as before the nerf, it is just better to leave it at level 2 and max out Hymn of Valor first.
NOTE: An alternative build is to have Song of Celerity taken at level 4 and the second point in Aria of Perseverance taken at level 5. This gives you the speed buff aura one level earlier, in case you are forced to recall early (getting 4 Sight Wards is enough wards to last past level 5 unless you play carelessly).
This build is also the build that I have placed into the skill sequence at the top of the guide.
Level 3: Aria of Perseverance (2)
Level 4: Song of Celerity (1)
Level 5: Aria of Perseverance (3)
Level 6: Crescendo (1)
Level 7: Aria of Perseverance (4)
Level 8: Hymn of Valor (2)
Level 9: Aria of Perseverance (5)
Level 10: Hymn of Valor (3)
Level 11: Crescendo (2)
Level 12: Hymn of Valor (4)
Level 13: Hymn of Valor (5)
Level 14: Song of Celerity (2)
Level 15: Song of Celerity (3)
Level 16: Crescendo (3)
Level 17: Song of Celerity (4)
Level 18: Song of Celerity (5)
Even on the defensive build, Song of Celerity is maxed last, as the small 6% boost to speed it provides is enough to help your team kite, along with the active effect on the Shurelya's Reverie. Hymn of Valor is maxed second as the extra damage it gives your team is more beneficial during teamfights, enabling your team to dish out and take more damage than the opponent's team. Song of Celerity helps your team to kite, escape and chase, but is next to useless in teamfights, when both teams are trading blows. This build is slightly more mana intensive in teamfights when alternating auras, so getting an early Mana Manipulator might be the best way to counteract the greater mana drain that you will have with this build. It is okay to delay your Aegis of the Legion by 475 gold for the greater mana regen as you will have better defences and sustain from maxing out Aria of Perseverance first.
Core Item Build Analysis
These items give you a ton of mana regen (from both Shurelya's Reverie and Chalice of Harmony's passive effect). Also, due to the health bonus from both the Shurelya's Reverie and Heart of Gold, Sona's survivability would have been increased. Chalice of Harmony helps this too by providing an extra 30 MR. Ionian Boots of Lucidity is the choice boots to increase the amount of CDR you get to 36%, allowing you to keep up multiple auras on your team in teamfights.
Chalice of Harmony is the key item in solving your mana problems. Its unique passive increases your mana regen depending on the amount of mana that you are missing (up to doubles your mana regen). Chalice of Harmony is a mostly underestimated and forgotten item (hopefully this guide reminds everyone of the effectiveness of the Chalice of Harmony). It manages to solve Sona's main problem: lack of mana regen when alternating auras and provides a nice 30 MR to help boost your survivability a little.
The items also provide a lot of gold generation to help with ward purchases ( Shurelya's Reverie is the last purchased part of the core build, so your Philosopher's Stone will be able to pay off for itself before Shurelya's Reverie is bought).
Here's some stats of the core build:
2220 Health, 1075 Mana
44 Health Regen per 5 seconds
38 to 77 Mana Regen per 5 seconds (due to Chalice of Harmony's passive)
With Chalice of Harmony's passive factored in, this build has a lot of mana regen. As your mana pool depletes, your mana regen would increase, enabling you to alternate your auras very liberally. If you start to use only one type of your auras (when your team is not moving and you are only using Aria of Perseverance or when you are only strumming your team along with Song of Celerity, your mana will shoot itself back up to a stable level where the amount of mana being used = the amount of mana being regen.
Also, if you are able to keep both Hymn of Valor and Aria of Perseverance's auras on at the same time, you would have 121 AD, 20 AP, 96 Armour and 94 MR. Your 121 AD allows even your autoattacks to hurt (not as much as AD carries') while that 96 Armour and 94 MR (111 Armour and 109 MR when you have the double aura bonus) topped off with 2220 health makes you quite durable. You will no longer be as easily one-shotted as you were during the lane phase.
Core Item Purchase Order
Sight WardSight WardSight Ward
This is the standard starting purchase for any support. Faerie Charm builds into your Philosopher's Stone later on and has a good amount of mana regen for your lane phase. This mana regen would be topped off by the Mana Potion. You can instead choose to purchase a Health Potion if you think that you do not need the extra mana from the Mana Potion.
Note: If you have the Wealth mastery, you are able to purchase a second Mana Potion or purchase a Health Potion and a Mana Potion. If you think you do not need the Health Potion and the Mana Potion, you may want to purchase a 4th Sight Ward to be able to ward more during the lane phase.
Philosopher's StoneSight Ward[695 Gold]
As soon as you have about 680 gold, start recalling. While recalling, you should be able to earn the last 15 gold needed to purchase these two items. Getting your Philosopher's Stone now would increase your gold generation. The Sight Ward allows you to ward. If you think that you do not have enough mana, you might want to wait till you can purchase a Mana Potion or two before recalling.
Sight Ward[900 Gold]
As with before, when you have enough gold to purchase these items, start recalling, purchase the items then pop back to lane. As with the previous recall, you might want to wait till you can purchase a Mana Potion or two before recalling.
Note: From this point on, whenever you need Sight Wards, Vision Wards or an Oracle's Elixir, you should recall and purchase it. Any wards that you need to purchase should have priority over your own item build.
The remaining items should be purchased in this order:
[350 Gold] [395 Gold] [500 Gold] [700 Gold]
Shurelya's Reverie[1400 Gold]
The thing to note about purchasing these items is that unless you can purchase the component that I listed, do not purchase any of the sub-items needed to build it. Often, the stats given by the sub-items are not worth making the investment first over buying a few more wards. Also, try to maintain a stack of about 3 Sight Wards as you go about supporting your team. Once you have purchased your Chalice of Harmony, you may decide to slow down on your build purchases as your Chalice of Harmony is enough to sustain your aura usage for some time (the only thing you lack now is CDR).
Situational Aura Items
After you have purchased your core build, you should be thinking about what aura items to purchase to aid your team. Ask your team what aura items they would prefer. If they do not have any preferences for aura items, you should look at your team composition and see which of your team members are fed or which are underfarmed. Also, look at the condition of the battle, whether you are winning or losing the match. When deciding aura items for your team, you should try to improve the battle performance of your fed party members. For example, if an Annie on your team is fed, you might want to get a Will of the Ancients to increase her AP and give her a little bit more survivability with its 25% Spell Vamp. If your Caitlyn is fed, you might want to purchase a Zeke's Harbinger to increase her attack speed (AS) and give her that 20% Lifesteal that she would need for survivability, especially when duelling against melee champions.
Here is a list of viable aura items:
This is an aura item that provides 8 AD, 12 Armour and 15 MR to all of your teammates. When combined with Sona's Hymn of Valor and Aria of Perseverance, you would be constantly giving your team 28 AD, 20 AP, 27 Armour and 30 MR (the teammate with Aria of Perseverance's double aura bonus gets 42 Armour and 45 MR instead). This is a nice item that would also make Sona quite tanky, giving her 2490 HP, 111 Armour and 118 MR (she would have 126 Armour and 133 MR with Aria of Perseverance's aura and 141 Armour and 148 MR with its double aura bonus). Do note that some tanks might prefer to purchase their Aegis of the Legion on their own. This would not happen often though, with Tanky DPS becoming more popular than pure tanks. I get this aura item whenever my team does not have any preference for aura items and none of them are much more fed than any other of the team members. This item can also be gotten if you have a team composition that is balanced between AD and AP because the tanky aura it gives can benefit any member of the team.
The Frozen Heart is an aura item that I get if the opposing team composes primely of AD champions or if their AD carries are extremely fed or overfarmed. This is because the -20% AS is the reason why we are getting this aura item in the first place. The Frozen Heart does not offer much more to your team other than the AS debuff on the opposing team's champions. Usually, if this item is needed, someone else on the team with more farm would purchase it (usually the tank). However, on the odd occasion where the enemy's carry is fed and no one on your team wants to purchase this, you should purchase it to shut down their carry. The extra Armour and mana this item provides are useful, but you shouldn't be having anymore mana problems at this point in time anyway. The Armour lets you sit at 180 Armour (195 with Aria of Perseverance's aura and 210 with its double aura bonus). The CDR that Frozen Heart provides is not very useful since you already have 36% CDR, so this is not really an optimal choice for an aura item.
The Mana Manipulator is a cheap 475 gold aura item that provides a 7.2 mana regen per 5 seconds aura. Due to how cheap this aura item is, you might find yourself purchasing this aura item in many fights that happen. Because it only costs 475 gold, it would not put back your core build or needed aura item by too much and provides a great mana sustaining aura for your whole team. This aura item allows Sona to act as a mini-mini-fountain for her team (a less bursty type of Clarity that restores mana over time and not instantly). If your team is having some mana issues, it is worth delaying your item build to purchase a Mana Manipulator temporarily.
The Soul Shroud is another all-purpose aura item. It provides 10% CDR and 12 mana regen per 5 seconds to all nearby allied champions. Since most champions do not necessarily build CDR, the 10% CDR aura will enable your team to use their skills more often (especially useful on AP burst casters). The mana regen will also benefit your team greatly. The only problem with the Soul Shroud's aura is that the 10% CDR will not work on any skills that are used when the user is not within Soul Shroud's aura's range. Also, Sona will not benefit from the CDR as you would already have 36% CDR from your core build anyway. This item can be upgraded from a Mana Manipulator if you have gotten it early, but the bonuses it provides is not really worth upgrading your Mana Manipulator for.
The Zeke's Harbinger provides 20% Lifesteal and AS to all nearby allied champions, also lowering the Armour of nearby enemy champions by 20. Although you shouldn't be that close to the enemy such that the Armour reducing aura would affect more than one or two of the enemy champions, the 20% Lifesteal and Attack Speed are what your AD carries would really benefit from. It enables them to hit more often and have better sustain (through the Lifesteal and health regeneration bonus) so that they would not die so easily in a teamfight. However, some carries like to build it for themselves as there is another 20% AS bonus for the champion that owns the Zeke's Harbinger that is not an aura.
The Will of the Ancients provides 30 AP and 25% Spell Vamp to all nearby allied champions. The 30 AP would help your mages hit a bit harder, especially in combination with your Hymn of Valor's aura giving them 50 AP total. Also, the 25% Spell Vamp would benefit all of your allied champions as it allows them to recover HP from the usage from any of their abilities although it benefits champions who do more damage overall from their abilities. The Spell Vamp would also greatly enhance Akali, Vladimir and some other specific champions' battle performance, so even if such champions don't request for it, you can offer to help them purchase it as aura items do stack for the two team members who own the aura item (although everyone else only receives the aura once). Take note that with the Will of the Ancients, Sona would have 100 AP in conjunction with her Hymn of Valor's aura. Even though Sona does not scale well with AP in general, this slight boost in AP will also benefit her, even if the benefits are only minimal
Just sit in a bush or stay behind your minions and partner while laning. The best position would be to use the bush and then dart out occasionally to harrass, but if your opponents are tough damage dealers like Caitlyn, Graves or Vayne, it might be safer to stay away from the bush where you would be slightly more vulnerable to ambushes and kills from the enemies. Do remember to tell your partner not to be too reckless just because you have a heal skill (gotten at level 2), since it is weak and won't be able to save their lives or make huge impacts (it is a sustaining heal and not a burst heal). Also, if you have to use your Aria of Perseverance to heal them up very frequently, you would run into an out-of-mana situation very soon, and be unable to harrass your enemies as well. You can move away from your lane only when warding but try to be away for as short an amount of time as possible as your carry is very susceptible to ganks with you gone.
Remember to constantly ward at least your lane. Ward the bush just above the bottom lane every 3 minutes. I usually place a new ward there when the old ward has just 20 seconds or so more left. Why? This enables me to be able to safely walk over to the bush to ward as there is still vision being granted by the ward. If you are in a good position or getting quite a number of dragons or assists, it may be possible to afford to ward the dragon and the mid bush for your mid. Your main priority though, is to ward the lane for your carry. Your jungler can and should be helping you ward dragon (and top and mid lanes should ward at least one side of their lane constantly).
*Remember to cast Hymn of Valor twice in base to ready your Power Chord for any level 1 teamfights. Charging twice will ready your burst for any skirmishes and to harrass your lane opponents almost immediately while still allowing you to hit the minions (which you should not be doing anyway) without wasting your Power Chord*
**It has been pointed out that charging your Power Chord 3 times in base is a possible alternative to charging Power Chord only twice. This allows you to do a Power Chord --> Hymn of Valor --> normal autoattack burst (just switch the positions of Hymn of Valor and Power Chord). This leaves you with one extra charge of Power Chord after your burst.**
A note about her harrassing: in early game, her Hymn of Valor --> Power Chord --> normal autoattack is able to deal a HUGE amount of burst. This burst is really significant and would be able to zone your enemies out if you use it often (as soon as they come close to the minions). You would be able to deny your opponents of some valuable minion kills and maintain lane dominance. Becareful though, and do not be too reckless harrassing some of those huge damage dealing champions. It might be worth it to run the defensive skillset when laning against them to be even more cautious, since harrassing openly might cause you to be counter-harrassed or even killed.
When you get Crescendo, it would be time to start ganking, ganging and aiming for enemy champions aggressively, using the technique that was mentioned earlier: Crescendo --> Hymn of Valor --> Power Chord --> Partner's damage and attacks. As and when your opponents start ganging and ganking, Crescendo, being a 1.5 second AoE stun, can help you escape by delaying and interrupting the enemies' attacks and skills, buying some time for you and your lane partner to fall back or to organise a gank of your own.
Midgame to Lategame/Endgame
There is not much to say about Sona in the midgame to lategame/endgame. The way you play will still be the same. This will also be the time when you will start leaving your lane to help your allies in teamfights or ganks. Use her ultimate whenever a good opportunity arises in teamfights and ganks. After having your core build done, you will gain enough mana regen to sustain consistent aura rotation in teamfights as well as to quickly heal up your teammates after a fight is done. In this way, you can act as a mini-base by rotating your Aria of Perseverance's heal and Song of Celerity's movement speed bonus and following your team around, while helping the team's mobility.
Do not recall unless necessary at this point. Try to stay around your teammates in pushes and be ever ready for teamfights. Supplement your team with your auras and alternate the appropriate auras in the different situations: Hymn of Valor and Aria of Perseverance in teamfights, Hymn of Valor and Song of Celerity in chases, Aria of Perseverance and Song of Celerity in escapes. This helps your team to survive well in a battle or escape and to effectively chase down enemies. Do not be afraid to use Shurelya's Reverie's active and Crescendo whenever needed. Sona won't be able to deal magnificent damage or heal magnificent HP, but with this build, your utility will be very great and you will be able to get your team (or most of your team) out of very sticky situations. Also, try to keep up a healthy stack of Sight Wards on each recall so that you do not have to recall too often to purchase Sight Wards while your teammates are out there pushing or battling as your presence is very important for the team. Worse comes to worst, you can constantly spam Clairvoyance at nearby gank spots to watch out for ganks. This is especially so since League of Legends games tend to be very mobile so warding nearby areas might not be the most cost-efficient way of watching out for ganks (although important map objectives should still be warded).
Whenever your team splits up to split push or when your jungler is going to help another member of your team to grab a buff, you should always follow and stick to your carry. Your job is mostly to babysit and support your carry while he or she gets farmed and fat and can carry your team at endgame/lategame. Do not ever compromise your carry's safety, life or farm. Sacrifice yourself if it would save your carries from death. Just do not jump in to try and save your carry when it is impossible to do so for your carry.
05/01/2012 - Changed the skill sequence. After experimentation, getting the first level in Song of Celerity earlier is proven to be more useful.
17/12/2011 - Added the skill ranges section as well as did some minor changes to some text in many parts of the guide (like improving the gameplay sections for both earlygame and midgame to lategame/endgame). Also added a new section, "Thoughts for the Future".
15/12/2011 - Added an alternative skill build for the offensive build (in the form of an extra note), an extra paragraph detailing a 9/0/21 mastery build for an offensive Sona and added Greater Glyph of Regeneration to the list of viable runes.
10/12/2011 - Added in an alternative on Power Chord charging right before entering your lane and a Pros and Cons section.
25/11/2011 - Published the first version of the guide.