Karma Build Guide by hypershatter
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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.
Change log and Annoucements
Will add more sections, changes to build later! please comment i need your feedback! =)
Hot fixed CDR, build change: need feedback
6th item slot. You can build whatever you want for the last item. most games don't last that long. usually i just start potting or get extra AP or resist whatever suits you. if you really don't know, buy Rabadon's Deathcap.
*added "Karma Journal"
*added back Rabadon's Deathcap for the last item, removed sight ward in case of confusion
*added new sections "spirit bond - line drawing", "[MUST!] Selfcast Soul Shield", and "common mistakes"
*skill edit: prioritized Soul Shield
*added new section "Alternative items (why I did not take)"
*Edit: some sections
*replaced Rabadon's Deathcap with Zhonya's Hourglass
*removed Glacial Shroud
*added Elixir of Brilliance
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Before you even read this guide, think about whether Karma is for you.
Karma is very dependent on your team; if you don't have a good team, there is nothing you can do.I call Karma being a "passive" support. Her skills focusing on buffing your allies instead of CC'ing your enemies. If you play mmorpgs, think of it as white paladin vs dark paladin. Where as Janna or Sona got offensive CCs, Karma only has a speed modifier. The bottomline is, you can be the best Karma in the world and nail every shield and heal perfectly, but they will be useless if your team can't perform well.
This is the introductory level guide for Karma. After playing many games with her, I realized that Karma is a tier 1 support. With the right combination/timing of her skills and positioning/control of Spirit Bond, she has insane teamplay and support abilities. Her build focus should be on CDR and HP with a bit of AP in early-mid game, and transition for Rabadon's Deathcap in mid-late game. I will explain why below. With this build you should finish around 3050HP~
Many new players build her as AP nuker by rushing Rabadon; this is very wrong! She doesn't have the ability to damage a single target greatly, plus her lack of damage ultimate makes her damage output very weak. However, she has very strong AOE potential throughout the game.
The build objective of this guide is: soaker + support.Although karma is a pretty good support champion, she is still widely considered to be a bit UP at the current stage (taking into consideration that players haven't gotten good with her yet). With sub-par damage and limited Mantra support ability, her overall impact in the game can be either excellent or terrible depending on the situation and team composition. Therefore, this build ignores the Soul Shroud pure support role and go for the soaker role. This means, she builds a balance of health and resist to "soak" some damage in a teamfight for your team. Any average player will always attack you because you are a support champion -automatically assumed to be squishy.
There will be a slight buff on her shield. Currently she can jungle effectively (around same speed as Warwick!!!); if you haven't watched this video, do it now (not mine).
Stats Focus in Depth: why CDR-HP-AP?
The goals of Karma is as follows:
1. get around 30-40% CDR
2. Build HP to boost passive and survivability. Add resistance along the way.
3. Get AP late game to boost shield absorption amount and CRAZZZZY HP AOE HEAL.
The most important thing is to get CDR. This is same with any other support. With almost max CDR cap, your Spirit Bond will be every 6 seconds, meaning you can use it right after the effect worn off, resulting in quasi-permanent speed boost as long as you cast it. It also greatly reduces Mantra cooldown for bonus skill activation.
HP is used for passively boosting your AP. You gain around some AP based on % of missing that you lose, which adds up in later levels when you have more health. Also, because you are always inside a teamfight, you are going to be taking some damage so your carries or nukers won't get focused. Karma is like Swain in that respect, she is not that fragile for a mage.
AP late game is crucial, not for damage (the scaling for Q is ****), but for the heal from Heavenly Wave and shield from Soul Shield. Heavenly Wave heals RIDICULOUS, 5%+(0.02% per AP) of missing HP per target. With around 300 AP, you are looking at 11% heal of missing HP, and it's AOE! Shield absorption also scales pretty well.
Skill leveling choice
The most important skill to level is Heavenly Wave. You want to get as high level as possible with this skill early game to heal yourself and your teammates often. Great lane sustainability especially against 2v1.
By level 3, you would want to have 1 skill point in each 3 skills to prepare yourself for most situations in lane.
The second focus is get some points in Soul Shield. Tough choice between Soul Shield and Spirit Bond because they are equally useful. As I play Karma more often, I enjoy the shield effect more. Save people + more AOE damage early game is always nice.
Before I put more points into Soul Shield, I level up Spirit Bond a bit; I like the CDR for leveling Spirit Bond and improved speed/damage bonus. I get level 6 of this skill last.
CDR -how much is enough
The cap on CDR is 40%. However, remember everything has a diminishing marginal benefit; the more you get it, the less cost effective it will be.
The optimal CDR is around 30-35%, the last 5% is not worth it
The difference between 30% CDR and 40% CDR for each skill at max level:
- Heavenly Wave: (30%) 6 x 0.7= 4.2 seconds VS. (40%) 6 x 0.6 = 3.6 seconds
- Soul Shield/ Spirit Bond: (30%) 10 x 0.7= 7 seconds VS. (40%) 10 x 0.6 = 6 seconds
The difference at most is around 1 seconds for chain and shield. This could make a difference between saving someone or not, but that won't be often. This is why I chose to get Elixir of Brilliance as a cheap way to cover the last 10% when I feel THERE IS A UPCOMING TEAMFIGHT. You can also get Kindlegem for the permanent 10% CDR, but I don't think it's that cost effective. Up to you.
sight ward Are you buying this? you should.
Always get it! Cheap and effective, I use it as a substitute for late game CDR. AP nice too.
Health and AP gives you more Heavenly Wave healing power. You don't need health potions as Karma. If low on health, Mantra + Heavenly Wave to heal yourself. Mana has never been a problem for me.
catalyst the protector This is for early game survivability and builds into either Rod of Ages or Banshee's Veil depending on your preference for AP or MR.
Self-explanatory. The CDR from this item is well worth it. Other boots are simply no good; you don't need Mercury's Treads if build Banshee's Veil after.
Get this for HP/AP. Catalyst transitions very well to ROA.
How many games did you have where enemy team isn't AP or AD+CC? Get this for the spell shield, MR and health. You don't want to be CC'ed because escaping will be hard if you do. also, if you get CC'ed and shut out, you can't support your team. This helps you a lot.
Armor and activation effect. AP also in there. In a teamfight, when you get focused, activate this, wait for enemy to switch target, shield that target (ally) and proceed to support.
Build with AP and MR.
I had it in there before as one of the main items, but when i took out Glacial Shroud, i had no armor. therefore i switched this for Zhonya's Hourglass. Rabadon's Deathcap is decent, but not the best choice. take this as the last item or w.e others you want.
Alternative items (why I did not take)
Many alternative items are available for Karma, but remember only items that synergies well in this build stays.
Reason: don't get me wrong, this is one of the better items to get for Karma. but, this item doesn't meet the objective of my build and thus not very useful. in the future i might put it in there after some rework; try it out see how it fits you.
Reason: not cost effective. The reason most mages or AP nukers get rylai is for the slow effect. To be more specific, the SINGLE TARGET slow effect. Say someone like Akali with rylai's can be a deadly chaser. For someone like Karma with most AOE damage, I don't really think rylai is the best item. The AOE slow for 2 of her skills isn't reliable; especially considering you have to be close to your enemies to actually proc slow. The shield slow AOE proc on your allies is also situational (if your ally is close to your enemy, might as well Spirit Bond). Also, slows don't stack very well (you don't see mages with a slow skill getting rylai's often), therefore again not cost efficient for Spirit Bond. You can get one late game, but I like rylai's either early or none at all. For health/AP I would rather get Rod of Ages.
I never had any mana problems in all of my games with Karma. Nothing. Plus, with 2 catalyst builds, there should be no mana problems.
I chose Exhaust and Flash. I like Flash to get out of tight situations; Ghost is redundant with the constant spam of your Spirit Bond. Use Exhaust because most likely you will always get focused in team fight unless your enemy team smartens up; use it to shutdown a nuker or carry.
Furthermore, Exhaust protects you or your dying ally long enough for your heal or shield to come back up.
Ignite -you don't want to be taking kills from your teammates. Early game harassing isn't your top strength either.
Clairvoyance -not the best choice for Karma. This is a good skill, but exhaust is more useful. You can still get it though.
Clarity -never had problems with mana.
Cleanse -banshee's is enough.
Teleport -maybe you get to lane or other situations faster. but not really a priority skill to get. again, exhaust is more useful.
Spirit Bond Control - Drawing lines
Spirit Bond is not an easy skill to use effectively. The effect is simple enough: you link an enemy or (ally); boosting your own movement speed; slowing chained enemy or (speeding up ally) and same to everyone who touches the chain; damaging enemies that touches the chain. If you Mantra, movement speed effect doubles. The difficult part is due to 3 reasons:
1. most of the time, no one is going to stand still and wait for your chain to touch them. enemy or ally.
2. dragging your chain takes too long and might pull you out of position
3. your chain doesn't damage the target.
Because Spirit Bond lasts for a couple of seconds, it can be used effectively as a positioning tool. Most of the time, you don't need to use the chain to actually hit anything. Therefore, think of the skill as a preemptive defensive or offensive barrier mechanism.
The first step in getting used to Spirit Bond is know its limits: the range of the skill, size of chain, and against stealth (chain will break if you can't see your enemy anymore, even if for an instant). After knowing the range of Spirit Bond, you must learn to micro your positions to keep the chain active from a safe position. For example, in a teamfight, if you attach it to one enemy, he/she will likely move back a bit to severe the chain, and return after to stay in the formation. When it is safe to do so, follow his movements so chain won't break without overextending yourself.
Second, you have to know when to use Mantra on your Spirit Bond. most of the time, you shouldn't use it on Spirit Bond. Only situations where you should mantra is when you and/or your team needs to get to a place, run, or chase urgently.
Defensive line drawing
When using Spirit Bond defensively, you are setting up a line barrier to protect yourself or someone else or your team from potential attacks/ganks. Remember everyone who touches the line either get slowed down or sped up. The AOE speed modifier is very crucial to surviving lane ganks.
Say you are laning with a partner in 2v2 lane, the enemy team has Shaco as a jungler. Now some people might hug tower 24/7 to avoid getting ganked. If you play that way, the enemy team can zone you out and you will lose valuable experience and gold. Approaching the middle of the lane is dangerous but you need to do it to gain exp and gold. Therefore, whenever you feel Shaco is coming to gank, set up a Spirit Bond on a minion (that is away from you), so if the enemy team decides to 3v2 gank, drag the line across the lane (diagonally) to slow down all of them. Adding that with your heal and shield + mantra, you can protect yourself and your ally from a certain-death gank.
Another scenario is 5v5 teamfights. In a stalemate situation, when you see the enemy team coming at your team, you can discourage enemies from charging at you by setting up a chain across a lane or entrance. If the enemy team decides to fight anyways, your team can decide whether to stay or run; both options are viable considering the AOE speed modifier.
A more general application of Spirit Bond is when you are helping a dying ally to kite an enemy. In this case, you should Spirit Bond the ally, and stand behind the enemy (if it is safe) so you can sandwich him and all three of you get the movement speed modifier effect.
offensive line drawing
This is basically pushing defensive line aggressively to force your opponents out of position.
I guess the best way to think of this is using it as a "map cutter"; any part of the map that is sliced between your chain and your team, the enemy most likely won't approach it (or face AOE slow). Of course, if you overextend, then the enemy will come at you and kill you.
[MUST!] Selfcast Soul Shield
Self-casting is when you press "Alt" with your skill (buff) to instantly cast on yourself without clicking. Most decent players use self-cast often, especially characters with shields or heals (e.g. Janna, Morgana, Kayle, etc.) Self-casting Soul Shield is crucial to be good at using Karma; it allows instant protection from certain death, instant AOE damage, and increases baiting effectiveness.
But pressing "[alt]+[E]" might be too slow for some people. Therefore, I recommend binding "[t]" (the key beside your [r]) to "selfcast E". You set up by going to menu in game ("esc") -> bind keys -> scroll down and enter the key for that option -> press "ok".
For more about smartcasting and selfcasting, read my guide:
-Getting to lane faster with Spirit Bond is always worth the mana.
-Use Mantra often when laning. Don't save it all the time, your wasting it. Usually I always leave one stack available and let the other cooldown.
-Blue golem buff is very good on karma, but don't always take it if your teammates need it. It's mostly for CDR reduction anyway.
-Don't shield right away when being chased by someone who is also low health. Bait! Wait until last minute, pop Mantra + Soul Shield, Spirit Bond, kite, and Mantra + Heavenly Wave heal. You might get a kill or assist with baiting.
-Be really careful which skill to put Mantra bonus on. The order of priority is usually this Heavenly Wave -> Spirit Bond/ Soul Shield. Some people might think "LOLZ AOE SHIELD DO SO MUCH DMG". Ya, it does do a lot of damage if you use it situationally. If you use the Mantra on shield you only have 1 stack left for entire teamfight, the other stack you are probably going to use it for AOE heal. then what? you got no Mantra left. What if after you use Mantra shield and the first heal your team is losing the teamfight, maybe getting aced? wouldn't a second AOE heal turn things around?
very situational skill.
Spirit Bond tips:
-most player's natural instinct is to move back when they see you chain them. Use this to your advantage, wait till they move back and start moving to the side to tag any enemies at the back.
-Always chain the enemy in the middle of the formation for maximum effect in a teamfight. Don't chain the front most enemy because you will be losing out on the AOE slow effect. Don't chain the furthest enemy because he can just back out easily and break your chain before you can drag it across his team. If you chain middle, not only will you get the guys in front, you can also tag the back enemies if they go in front for teamfight.
-Using Heavenly Wave to heal only yourself. No AOE heal or damage. (at least try!)
-Using AOE heal/damage to push lane like mad. AOE healing your minions while damaging enemies.
-Heal at very high health. doesn't know what clutch healing is.
-(sometimes) Doesn't bait even with heal mantra available.
-Try to attach Spirit Bond to an enemy outside of your range; accidentally moving forward and out of position -ganked.
-Failure to use AOE speed modifier. when running away, attaching chain to your ally instead of the chasing enemy. However, this depends on the location of your enemy.
-Saving yourself with Soul Shield when should be shielding your dying carry.
-trying to harass/kill someone with AOE damage. Fail, run out of mantra for heal, and no shield =death.
-Uses Mantra inefficiently; waste charges. run out of Mantra when need to heal. Very good example of waste is AOE mantra Soul Shield when all the enemies are at full health and you do almost no damage. Or mantra Spirit Bond when regular Spirit Bond is enough.
-Leaving 2 Mantra charges there and do nothing with them for an extended period of time.