Karma Build Guide by BuddhaKingpen
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 Buddhakingpen and I will be telling you how I play karma. First and Foremost without at least a decent team, KARMA WILL NOT SUCCEED. its proven. karma can kinda sorta carry, but I mean really, if u need to carry a team with a tanky ap nuke support...your just using the wrong champ. My karma focuses on having enough mana to keep up the damage, the cooldowns to make sure u are always safe to use your skills, and are still able to run in the middle of a fight, get down and dirty with the other offtanks and only get stronger as the fight goes on.
I will also give a support build that I use, although its slightly generic lol.
Champion Characteristics and Playstyle
Karmas specialty is making a teamfight last WAY longer than it needs to by constantly healing her entire teams, and shielding burst on ad carries. a well played karma will become such a nuisance that eventually she will be a focused target (much like Soraka ). Once she is focused, thats when she truly shines. she will keep herself alive for long enough to do hefty damage, while STILL supporting her team, and kiting for herself long enough that the carries on the other team will be dead. Basically, you carry your team, by MAKING them carry you.
Karma relies on farm more so than other champs. luckily for her, all of her moves do aoe damage, so farming is the least of her problems. karma is one of the more balanced champions in the game, with no bad lane matchups, and very capable teamfighting ability. her biggest problem, is that her kit is made to change the tides of a fight. So she cant just dive into a fight, kill someone, and walk away (unless squishy). She has serious problems when a lane that she wasnt in (her aoe farm allows her to keep dead even if not outright win pretty much all of her lanes if played correctly) gets fed to high hell.
-can turn an evenly matched teamfight on its head.
-has no truly bad lane matchups against any solo laner, be it mid or top
-can support her team while nuking the enemy team
-has a nice aoe slow/haste (similiar to Orianna
-excellent 1v1 ability
-clears minion waves instantly with enough levels and ap
-turns tanky dps into god tier
-very team dependant. cant hard carry alone
-cooldown reliant- must itemize for cdr or else her usefulness is diminished.
-during laning, her main form of harrass pushes a lane pretty hard. must ward at all times
-mantra has a reletively long cooldown, which limits her utility. She may get 4 mantra charged moves if used properly over the course of a teamfight.
-proper use of her Spirit Bond requires a LOT of practice.
-No true ultimate (easily remedied through buying Deathfire Grasp
All in all, karma is a very high skillcap champion that isnt really made for solo queue pub stomping. she needs an organized team that is built AROUND her and her strengths. If she gets that though, she is a wrecking ball and makes her entire team better.
My rune selection is pretty self explanitory. get that mpen for when its nuke time, armor yellows, and mres blues. honestly on karma, I wouldnt prefer spellvamp quints, seeing as she does all aoe damage. I would suggest more Mpen, since she doesnt buy a void staff and needs to stack as much flat mpen as possible, to negate the squishies mres. I have spellvamp because I like them on champs with a single target nuke, but i only have so many rune pages lol.
In all honesty, you can run karma however you want here, depending on your playstyle with her. Run 21/9/0 if you like to kill things, and using
to exploit your Inner Flame . With a max build and around half health, your ap going with 21/9/0 will be from around 500 and shoot up to around 620. pretty strong
Karma can also go 9/21/0. This will allow her to kite for longer with her Inner Flame up, also giving her a bit of tenacity, which my main build is missing. it also protects her in the early levels of the game, when she is at her weakest.this is good for the newer karma that isnt that comfortable with what she does yet.
i go 21/6/3, only because i dont like the second tier of masteries in the defense tree.
Items on AP Karma
Boots and 3 pots- movement speed, and lane sustain. so u can use all of ur mantras for your soul shield
Rod of Ages- Her main rush item. you get this, and you will never leave lane
your choice of boots between
Ionian Boots of Lucidity - Cooldowns. the ***** needs it lol. get these if you would rather have some type of other ap item than Deathfire Grasp, or a different defense item than Frozen Heart
sorc shoes- I usually get these, because combined with abysal scepter, you have an extra 40 mpen,on top of runes and masteries. this will reduce squishies mres to nothing. as an offtank. you kill squishies. not tanks. the combo of runes, masteries, abysal scepter and Sorcerer's Shoes is a more powerful combination than just Void Staff alone until around 130 magic resist. besides MAYBE a tank and offtank, how many champs build that much mres?
Merc treads-I get these if i feel like buying athenes unholy grail instead of dfg for extra mres. if you havent noticed by now, dfg is pretty much the only flexible item in my build. there are other ways to build her. but this is a consistent one.
Rabbadons - Buy it. BUY IT! just this item alone, combined with the max of her Inner Flame and 21/9/0 masteries will give her around 380 ap alone! from one item! now as tempting as i made this sound, dont rush this item, because then you will be squishy with really long cooldowns by the time teamfights start. But you want to buy this item at some point whenever you can.
Deathfire grasp- The way i see it (and it seems everyone else) karma has two main problems. she has no real ultimate, and she is restricted heavily by cooldowns...this helps solve both of those problems. to me, this item "fixes" karma.
INSTEAD OF THIS, I SOMETIMES GET...
Will of the Ancients- sometimes the extra spellvamp will keep u alive longer than the ability to just outright nuke someone. but you will then lose your "ultimate", with Deathfire Grasp and will need to find your cdr elsewhere
Frozen heart- I find this essential on any assault support champ. Karma, Morgana, to Zilean, I think they all need this. cooldowns, more mana, and the defense plus the passive will allow them to stay alive longer from damn near anyone. absolutely essential. dont replace this with Zhonya's Hourglass . I've tried. mcch rather would have the extra defense so I dont just use the activate on it as a crutch and i have the tankiness on me to actually BE in the fight.
Abysall scepter- i pretty much toss this on any champ thats not physical nowadays lol. gives her a nice amount of ap, mres so other mages cant burst her down. plus the sexy mpen to stack with all of your other mpen.
Other viable items on karma:
Zhonyas hourglass- I know I said not to get it, but at the end of the day, it DOES give karma what she needs in the ap/defense department...but the activate isnt like it would be on say, Kennen , Fiddlesticks, or Morgana
Lich bane- gives her a lil mres, and since I focus on an actual in your face offtank, then a nice auto attack works well sometimes
Warmogs Armor- Warmogs?? I know it sounds funny, but with her tankiness and with a high enough hp you can kite with your max Inner Flame up all day. and at level 9 considering that you can farm a whole minion wave with your combo, you could actually farm this item up first and get it maxed out very fast with no ap items before it. u then need to find a way to manage your mana though. This item is good paired with archangels staff . i call that combo the super rod of ages. very rare in use. but very potent.
Morellos evil tome- I've seen some karmas even rush this item. the mana regen on it is nice, and may help you not even need your Rod of Ages . but then you will need to find health elsewhere. This can replace either Rod of Ages or, lord forbid, your Deathfire Grasp (not recommended} . maybe even your Frozen Heart
Archangel staff- thought VERY HARD about using this in my main build, and for a while i did. if you feel like you wont be so much of a damage dealer, then get this in place of your Deathfire Grasp , get Ionian Boots of Lucidity and get rylais crystal scepter instead of Rod of Ages it will give you high ap for nice fat shields to protect your offtanks and carries with, a slow to help the carries kite, and give the percentage of your heal a nice boost. But you wont do the same damage yourself.
Skills & Sequencing
Inner Flame- The passive that with proper use, can make karma extremely op. Can potentially give Deathfire Grasp an extra 4% damage alone, will be further boosted by the
mastery and rabadons deathcap . This passive is VERY strong(i think of it like a stronger version of Viktor ' s augment:death except it doesnt take up an item slot, and only balanced out by the fact that karma has no true ultimate (which is why i keep mentioning Deathfire Grasp ) and she needs to itemize more for cdr than most mages.
Heavenly wave- Karma 's q. fires in a cone, similar to Annie 's Incinerate . in lane, its a good supplement to the damage that your Soul Shield does, and also is a nice clutch heal with Mantra for yourself when you have no pots. and in teamfights, its a mini version of Karthus Requiem and Soraka Wish only spammable, an of course, a MUCH smaller range lol.
Max this 2nd because it is good for backup damage to Soul Shield , but the range is too short to make this your primary damage source during laning
Spirit bond- Karma 's w skill. This seems to be a highly misunderstood skill. Whoever u attach the beam to, is slowed or hasted, depening on if they are an enemy or an ally repectively. Enemies that this is attached to do not take damage. Karma gets the speed buff as long as she has herself anchored to someone. Most people understand this much. What they DONT seem to get is that anyone caught INBETWEEN the beam, not only get hasted or slowed, but regardless of wether or not the bond broke, the slow or haste still applies to them. so even if the tether only passed through the enemy for a split second and then broke, they are still slowed for 5 seconds. This is useful for moments like during a dragon or baron fights. You can actually anchor baron or dragon and NOT pull the aggro from it, since you did no damage to it. your tether then effectively zones the enemy and anyone intercepted by it is slowed. if your ad carry hides behind the tether, then they have been given the ability to kite just off the fact that the enemy is forced to either pass through it and be slowed to get to them, or try to take out karma, which we all know isnt that easy to do. Its the clever use of THIS skill that makes or breaks a good karma player, contrary to what most think.
Max this last only because mantra doesnt do much to it, and it doesnt increase 1v1 prowess by much.
Soul Shield- Karma 's E skill Her main nuke with her highest ap ratio, that hits in a respectable aoe when activated with Mantra. How you use this in lane depends on your lane matchup. For top lane melees, you pretty much just want to auto attack them until they get tired of it and come in to fight back. when they get close enough. blow yourself up. there is no way that the combination of your auto attacks combined with the shield that just damaged them that they now have to fight through to get to your hp will lose you this trade. in mid, you will be using your minions as catalysts for damage. if ever the enemy mid laner steps too close to one of your minions, just Mantra Soul Shield a minion for free poke, then back off. if they are dumb enough to let u get close enough for a trade, blow yourself up to nuke them, and walk away almost unscathed. since early on your Mantra only show up every 25 seconds, it will be a slow poking war with karma. but you should win.
Max this first for the solo lane dominance this allows.
Mantra-This is very player dependant on how it should be used. at max rank with max cooldown you get a charge every 12 seconds. early game it should be used sparingly. how u should use it depends on what u feel you need to accomplish in the teamfight. when a fight starts, even while your on the way, always charge a mantra up before you get there. that will queue up another mantra to start coming off cooldown so you will still have 2 in the middle of the teamfight. if you were able to do this, you will probably want to use it on a soul shhield to do big aoe damage to the team, unless someone is about to die.until you get your Deathfire Grasp , it may be best to just Soul Shield a tank or tanky dps to get big burst off in a teamfight. but once you do, activate that ghost and beeline it for the ad carry. you can then activate Deathfire Grasp , Mantra Soul Shield yourself, Heavenly Wave the carry, then find a way to have your Spirit Bond hit the carry if you havent killed it yet. (the easiest way to accomplish this is to run straight passed the carry and attach the Spirit Bond to one of his teammates, who should be chasing you to protect the carry.
ghost-is how u manipulate your position in teamfights. since karma is a close range champ, she needs to get in to kill the ad carry. this is the easiest way to achieve that. if she's cc'd in the process, then she did her job as a soak for her own ad carry. if she DOES get in, with dfg, she can instagib an ad carry. if she absorbs cc, and kills the teams ad carry, then thats fine work in my book.
ignite- since karma has no ultimate, but pokes her enemies down pretty well, this will help get that extra bit of gold when someone is stupid enough to stick around for too long. and karma NEEDS her items.
Other viable spells
Teleport- good for solotop, and will make it so that u are a brick wall. you wont lose your lane with tp unless you just arent used to karma yet
Flash-even with the flash nerf, its still viable on every champ, and its still funny to see somenoe qq when you flash-mantra+soul shield-heavenly wave them down for a quick assassination.
Exhaust-pick it up if no one else on your team has it.
Heal- actually pretty fantastic on karma. if your team is losing a teamfight, try to mantra heavenly wave everyone, and then pop heal. its almost the equivalent of a soraka ult+ heal.Could keep your entire team alive way longer than the enemy expects. this could win your team a baron or dragon fight, so strongly consider using it, even tho u lose killing potential.
endgame, you will be a glorified heavy damage support who can also destroy squishies in one combo (with dfg). if everyone has 6 items, karma might be in the top 10 of the game, and if played properly, can single handedly change a teamfight.
all in all, ur making a WELL ROUNDED karma. not a specialist. she wont be able to nuke like an annie, combo like ryze, tank like rammus, or support like janna. but she can do them all. and she does them all well. leave comments, suggestions, but plz no trolling. tell me how I can improve.
THANKS FOR READING!
Dont worry. theres more to come about support karma, as well as just fixing it up to look prettier.