Soraka Build Guide by xmanpriest
Not Updated For Current Season
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Healing is OP
Not Updated For Current Season
Hi, this is xmanpriest (named for my old WoW PvP priest healer). I main Soraka in solo/duo ranked queue, have played >400 ranked games with her this season, and just made it to GOLD. WOOT! I'm super excited, and wanted to share my strategies. Up until this month, I've been a steady silver 4, but recently made some discoveries that greatly increased my win rate. Feel free to look me up.
I'm hoping people will read this guide and play Soraka. She's under appreciated right now, and the level 2 dragon strategy is pretty op. I would like to popularize it, and maybe even see RIOT change the game because of it. That would be impactful.
Stats: Runes, Masteries, and Items
So let's start with the basics for Soraka. Don't build her like other supports. Her mechanics are unique in League of Legends and justify a different build. You want to max healing output, to keep your teammates alive. So you build CDR and AP.
You also need to generate health to replace what's lost from healing (each astral blessing costs 10% max health). Some players take health regen, but I don't think that really works. Instead you need to build mana regen and throw starcalls contantly (which return health if you land them on opponents). So you need mana regen too.
Let's also talk about what you do NOT need. Since you'll be healing (and healing saps your own health), your health will dwindle -- especially toward the end of the teamfight. In most of my deaths, I get one-shotted. So it's all about positioning and not gear. You do NOT build health, armor, or magic resistance. Health is especially bad since it increases the cost of astral blessing.
I build 30% CDR in runes/masteries and buy a support item for the last 10% (this also keeps teammates calm as they see typical support items). I load up on mana regen runes and buy a forbidden idol early, that's really good for Soraka. I take two AP quints, but you can switch these for mana regen if you'd like.
Level 2 Dragon: Making Teammates Better
So I've played a lot of games with Soraka. For the longest time I had 10-15 more wins than losses. Sometimes I had great teammates and got carried. Other times I had terrible teammates and was helpless. Because matchmaking is random, statistics say that these two situations should happen with equal frequency (even though losing feels so much more common). I'm sure all readers are familiar with this.
There are some games where teams are close, and your individual play can affect the outcome. I've spent much time improving as a player to win these games. I'm sure you do too.
The big breakthrough for me was the realization that an early dragon buff makes your teammates better. Much better. If you give them +6% to AD and AP at 3 min, they WILL WIN MORE GAMES for you (without your playing any better). This makes sense intuitively, the lanes all do better. The wins become rofl-stomps. The close games become solid wins. Some of the losses become winnable close games.
This had made a huge difference in my win rate. I've won 75% of my last 20 games, and now have 35 more wins than losses. I've also climbed from silver 4 to gold. Honestly, I'm not really any better as a player, it just the early dragon buff.
So specifically, how do you take lvl2 dragon? It's optimal to bring a duo partner so you don't have to explain anything, just call support and jungle. If you're solo, you need to convince the jungler to try it. I say, "vi (or whoever), want to do lvl2 dragon? I can heal you through it with soraka. I do it all the time, and the early dragon buff makes everyone better." I often follow up with, "We typically can sneak it, but if their jungler discovers us, everyone collapse on him for first blood." and "otherwise just stay in lane and enjoy the buff (teamwork op)" and "adc play safe, you'll be alone for a minute and a half (feel free to /all chat me as afk if you want)"
It only works with some junglers. I doesn't work if they're very tanky and don't put out enough damage. I've never been successful with amumu or sej. Most junglers are fine: vi, yi, trynd, udyr, shy, eve, aatrox, etc.
The dragon spawns at 2:30. You can usually take red and go right to dragon. On the other side you take gromp and blue, then go to dragon. Let the jungler get to lvl2 (Soraka will still be lvl1). Take scuttler if you want. Smite will come back up, so have them use it right away. Go deep into the pit, so you may be lucky to avoid detection if their jungler happens by. Autoattack the whole time and heal on every CD. You'll likely need to burn both pots (and maybe your summoner heal).
If the jungler does discover you, turn on him right away. Ping for help. If your teammates collapse, it's FB. The other team will not be ready for it.
Laning: Wards, Healing, Starcall, and Silence
So after you take dragon, go to lane (you may have to recall if it went badly). You'll probably have used both pots. Some tips:
- Level 1 is hard. You basically just stand around and try not to get harassed. If the adc takes damage, it'll cost you health to bring them back.
- At level 2 you can be active, as you now have starcall. If you're not at full health, lob a starcall at them on every cooldown.
- Hitting with starcall is an art. I find it's easier to hit the adc. Look at your minions, identify the one about to die, drop a starcall on the spot they'll stand to last hit. It'll drive them crazy and keep you full.
- This is the reason for CDR and Mana Regen. You want to be able to rain starcalls down, heal your adc, and be at full health. If you run low on mana, then you can't do this.
Positioning is important. You can heal the adc, but not yourself. Stay behind the minions if you're up against a "pull" support like blitz, thresh, or naut. If they hook/grab you, you're likely dead (and the adc is probably too far away to force a trade). It's best to play behind the adc, not in front (unless you're trying to throw some deep starcalls).
If they pull the adc (or initiate any other way), heal them. And heal them again. And again. Drop a starcall to slow them down (they won't dodge during a fight). You have really good retreat. Hopefully the adc is kiting backwards instead of panicking (and just running without shooting). I find that a good adc will WIN trades where they get pulled. The best ones will attack when they get pulled and the other guys will back off (bruised and bleeding). Draven and Graves are great for this.
Warding is really important. I find it's hard to lose the lane without someone else showing up. If you're backed up near your tower, use your trinket. If you push out, ward the river with a "real" ward. I used to buy sightstone first, but the recent buffs to nomad's are too compelling. I try to go back at 1300g to get both.
If the jungler comes, use equinox to protect the adc. Junglers usually aren't too deadly when silenced. Depending on which jungler it is, put the silence where they'll want to cast their initiate (or where they'll land). It hurts them either way, and let's you heal, starcall, retreat your way back to the tower.
Finally watch the entire map once you're level 6. You want to assist-farm. Watch your teammates health and if they get a little low, click on the minimap to watch the fight. Throw an ult if you can make a difference -- help them win or escape. Do let them die if it's hopeless. I love healing someone with a sliver who's under the tower. Hold the heal until they get the cross over their head, it heals for more and gets the opponent committed.
Positioning and Team Fighting
When team fighting, it's all about positioning. You should be in back, way in the back. Heal the back line, or anyone who retreats back to you. Your job is to extend fights by keeping people alive. Your team wins these sorts of fights.
Don't chase someone who initiates with a dash. If amumu bandage tosses into a crowd, do NOT heal him, they'll kill you. Same goes for jax, xin, diana, vi, etc. I love tanks that go ham, but they need to build to survive that. Do heal them when they retreat. I like to take summoner heal to increase my burst heal.
If one person takes most of the damage, heal them if you don't get exposed. Feel free to top them off. I will go down to empty keeping my team up.
If many teammates take damage, you need to make choices. It's typically best to heal your hardest hitter first. You want them alive. I'd rather heal 12-2 katarina who's 75% than 2-9 xin who's 10%. Let the weak ones die first.
Hold your ult until at least one teammate has a cross over his head. It does more healing when teammates are low. It's really good vs wombo-combo teams. They do AOE damage to everyone. You can often push 1000 health to everyone if they're low.
Do ward the sides of the fight area. You want to see assassins when they come for you. After a few fights (where you guys kick butt b/c your team's at full health the whole time), they will target Soraka first.
Zhonya's should be your first AP item. Pop it when they jump on you (and they will jump on you). Use your silence too. The hitters should dispatch a squishy assassin if they dive in.
In addition to healing, use starcall and equinox. You want to throw starcall every cooldown. It'll keep your health up, slow down the other team, and do a little damage. Use equinox strategically, it has a pretty long cooldown. Save it to peel for the carry. If there's a cluster of opponents, drop it on all of them.
Follow the Carry Around
Often one lane will get fed. When this happens, follow them around. Heal them and make them unkillable. Silence any assassin that challenges them. This fed carry will likely wreck the other team and win the game. I love to follow vayne, fizz, annie, yi, trynd, etc around. Don't make them fend for themselves.
Buy a pink ward trinket when up against vayne, rengar, kha, etc. Help your team kill those guys.
You know you're doing your job well when the other team complains about "healing op."
Learn to Retreat
Soraka has a great retreat mechanic. Especially if you're in front, and the person you're healing is behind, and the other team is chasing. You can starcall every 3s or so. It has a slow in the middle. Drop it on them and slow them down (they won't dodge while in pursuit). This heals you. You heal your teammate(s). Rinse/repeat. After a few iterations, if your teammate is kiting and not just running, we may have higher health than the pursuers, and can turn on them. Often we can make it back to the tower, often from a far away.