Karma Build Guide by Bump N Grind
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.
Hello! This is my first MOBA Guide so let me apologise in advance if it's not as well-made as the other guides on here.
In this guide I will give you a breakdown of how I play Karma, the Enlightened One and hope that it will help others who might find her playstyle to be challenging or difficult to grasp.
First, it is important to note that Karma isn't exactly a full support. She is in fact a hybrid mix between an AP Carry and a Support. Therefore attempting to play her as a pure support champion is not advised. By this I mean equipping her with every support item in the game is bad.
So how is she a Support and a Carry? Well...
When you look at other supports, they are capable of doing their jobs well with little to no AP. Janna is a prime example. She can deal a decent amount of CC to disrupt the enemy team and is capable of protecting allies from harm. AP Carries on the other hand are very reliant on acquiring AP in order to continue being effective throughout the course of a match. For example, Morgana is capable of dealing a pretty decent amount of damage early on, but as the game progresses and the other team builds up some Magic Resist, Morgana will also need to increase her AP to keep up her damage.
Now let's take a look at Karma...
She is capable of dealing pretty decent damage early on between Heavenly Wave and a Mantra-empowered Soul Shield. However, she requires AP in order for her damage output to scale into late game. Like other supports, Karma also has some form of CC. This would be Spirit Bond which also doubles as a utility speed boost for allies. Karma's abilities, when used together in unison, will both dish out decent damage in fights as well as support allies. This is why she is a Carry/Support Hybrid.
Rune building for Karma is very diverse. My Rune build is centered mainly around my Item Build and partially with my Masteries. The early 20 AP stacks decently with the two Doran's Rings for a good early game damage output. The +11 Mana Regen at level 18, along with Soul Shroud and Shurelya's Reverie, will give a good amount of mana regen to keep you going late game without having to buy an Archangel's Staff. Lastly, the Cooldown Reduction from Runes and Masteries will give about 14% CDR right from the start, which is pretty much a free Ionian Boots of Lucidity. With Soul Shroud and Shurelya's Reverie your end game CDR will be about 39%, which isnt the max CDR but it's still just as good.
For Summoner Spells I take Clairvoyence and Exhaust.
Clairvoyance is your typical support spell and is very helpful during the course of the game. Karma is still part support after all.
Exhaust, while usually taken as an offensive spell on melee carries, can actually double as a very good support spell. During the laning phase you can use it to help your laning partner secure a kill or save them during a fight-gone-wrong. In team fights you can use it to greatly hinder the enemy teams largest damage dealer.
Of course the alternative to Exhaust is Flash, however if you play it smart and don't allow yourself to be caught out of line then Flash isn't necessary. Also, like it states in her Lore, she's strongest when others are with her. therefore if you ever need to escape you can Spirit Bond away with an ally.
As you can see, half of my items for Karma are support items while the other half are AP items.
This build will provide you with just about EVERYTHING Karma needs...
- Cooldown Reduction
- Mana Regen
- Support Capability
Contrary to what many think, Karma's passive Inner Flame is pretty good. The key to utilizing it is building up a massive amount of health on Karma. Acquiring large amounts of health is a prime focus when building Karma. It reduces her overall "squishiness", allows her to really get close in teamfights (which she needs to given the rather short range on Heavenly Wave), and utilize Inner Flame more effectively, meaning you can afford to let your health get low enough to still gain a good 70% of the total bonus AP available.
In the Item Purchase map I didn't include Wards and Health/Mana pots. Those are really up to you. Buy pots if you're finding your lane to be troublesome and need a little extra boost. Buy wards, however don't go crazy trying to ward the whole map. At most, you only need three wards at a time. Two to keep track of movement along the upper and lower sides of the River and a third ward to serve as a lookout for when your team is about make a move on the enemy. Junglers will also be providing wards with their Wriggles Lantern and your tank can afford one or two wards every now and then as well. Allowing you to save up for that much needed AP.
As stated earlier, the two early Doran's Rings will stack well with the 20 AP giving you a good all around laning boost in Damage, Mana Regen, and Health.
For boots I prefer Boots of Swiftness for two main reasons.
1) Often, Spirit Bonded allies can end up moving too fast for you to keep up with when you have level 2 movement speed
2) You need to be as mobile as possible to keep yourself in a good position during teamfights.
Except for boots and Rabadon's Deathcap, my main items all give a really good amount of health. Soul Shroud and Shurelya's Reverie will give you cooldown reduction which is highly needed on Karma. Also, both provide great supporting benefits to your team and will keep your mana up at all times.
Rod of Ages and Rylai's Crystal Scepter are your two main damage items. Both are very good on Karma and in addition to Spirit Bond, Rylai's will greatly improve Karma's ability to chain slow enemies.
Save Rabadon's Deathcap for the very end of your build!!! Rushing Deathcaps on Karma is about the worst thing you can do. It leaves you too squishy to utilize Inner Flame, gives no CDR, and you already will have a decent amount of early game damage so there's no need to over do it. Plus it's highly expensive and is really just an item soley made to help casters scale much better into late game...LATE GAME NOT EARLY GAME.
- Spirit Visage
- Will of the Ancients
- Frozen Heart
- Zhonya's Hourglass
- Bacnshee's Veil
- Morello's Evil Tome
I won't go into too much detail about skill sequence. It's basically getting Heavenly Wave and Soul Shield leveled up as much as possible while still keeping Spirit Bond useful as the game progresses. The reason why I don't take Spirit Bond unti level 5 is because this is around the time where your lane partner will probably be capable of harassing the enemy more efficiently. Also, you will need Heavenly Wave and Soul Shield leveled up early on for better offense and defense.
Pros / Cons
Karma has many pros and cons, however I find the pros greatly out-weigh the cons making her a pretty viable champion to play.
- Strong laning presence
- Decent AP scaling
- Plays two roles at one
- Doesn't hinder team's damage output
- Capable of executing clutch saves
- Can keep team going with group heals
- Passive allows for more damage as a fight progresses
- Can be often difficult to fully fill in one of her two roles
- Hard to master
- Requires a decent amount of tankiness
- No game-changing ult
- Pretty item-dependant
TEAM WORK <-- Most important thing to remember when playing as or with Karma...or anyone with a "support" tag.
Few things to note...
- Contrary to the current Support/Range Carry laning Meta, Karma is much more stronger when laning with melee dps carries.
- Karma is better suited for Premades since knowing your allies actions and aggressive/passive playstyle will help you time your abilities more efficiently. Solo Queuing Karma is something I'd strongly advise against.
- Save Mantras for the right moment. Wasting them will reduce your usefulness in fights.
- Farm Appropriately - last hit, but don't take last hits away from your carry
- Harass with Heavenly Wave and cast Mantra-empowered Soul Shields on minions every once in a while
- DO NOT spam Mantra-empowered Heavenly Waves to try and heal your ally back up to full health, save it for when your ally is fighting and their health gets low (since the heal is more effective when allies have lower health)
- Heavenly Wave's range is rather short, making it very risky for Karma to use as a harass sometimes so be careful and use good judgement in knowing when it's safe to harass.
- Manage your mana wisely, don't harass too much since most of that job is your carry's and save most of your spell casting for when your carry initiates so as to give them some follow-up damage.
Mid Game/Late Game/Teamfights
- Always remain with your teammates
- When team fights begin, take note immediately of who your initiator will be so you can appropriately time your Mantra-empowered Soul Shield on them.
- Wait til your allies health gets to 50% or lower before casting a Mantra-empowered Heavenly Wave to give a much stronger heal. If a a single ally is in need of help save your heal and simply Soul Shield them.
- In fights Spirit Bond either your team's or the enemy team's tank or melee dps. This will boost/reduce their mobility in a fight and because they are the more mobile units they will land the beam on more enemies.
- Since you are still a support, try to keep the upper and lower sides of the river warded as much as possible. Keeping a third ward to serve as a look-out for allies when needed is always helpful, but if you find yourself needing to save more gold you still have Clairvoyance.
- If you do follow my build and go pretty tanky, you can take a few blows from skill shots for your squishy carries.
- Unlike standard AP Carries, Karma doesn't focus one unit in particular. Just cast your spells at the right times to deal damage throughout the course of a fight. Heavenly Wave from the very start has a relatively short cooldown, and with good CDR it can be used multiple times in teamfights.
Playing Karma in Ranked Games can be VERY RISKY. This is mainly because she is half support/half AP Carry. Therefore, true AP Carries and true Supports will be much better at their jobs than Karma will at just filling one of those roles. If you are planning to play her in Ranked I advise you take on your team's AP Carry Role and still have someone else play a support as well. In many lower ELO matches supports are still rarely played just like in Normal games, so Karma can benefit a lot in the current Tanky DPS Meta since, as stated above, she works best with melee dps. For mid-high ELO having Karma as the AP Carry is fine, however the team's true support player should be one of the more offensive supports who also dual off into other roles as well, such as Taric, Nidalee, and Alistar.
Thank you for reading and I hope this guide is helpful!
As stated this is my first guide so any tips for improvements/future guides will be much appreciated. :)