Karma Build Guide by destrucshot
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.
Welcome to my Support Karma guide!
Hello everyone, and thanks for taking the time to check out my guide! I've been playing Karma for a long while now [have clocked somewhere between 100-200 matches with her] and my experience with her has gone through various stages. However, since the infinite sustain bottom lane has been, for the most part, weakened, Karma is shining now more than ever.
She is a heavily team-reliant support, however she can turn the tide of any game when she builds a decent set of items. If you are looking for an easy support to play, Karma is probably not for you. A lot of experience and practice is required to master Karma for making the right decisions with her abilities.
Do not be confused, this guide is not for AP Carry Karma, it is for Support Karma.
Karma is currently undergoing a rework so this build will probably change in time. I do have concerns for what the rework will entail [will it remove anything from her kit or just add to it?] but let us hope for the best!
Pros and Cons
Good AP scaling [especially on her sheild]
Highly rewarding when played right
Hard to counter
Exceptional healing capability
Highest base-armor in the game
Requires heavy teamwork to play with
Build 1 VS Build 2
Build 1 is my preferred build, and is for aggressive play.
The main difference here is that you will start off with a Doran's Ring and will be pushing an aggressive stance in bot lane. Remember that trying to push an aggressive stance on a passive lane is difficult and you may end up getting you or your AD carry killed. It will help you sustain in lane somewhat however it is not the focus, and you are giving up early ward coverage. Use this setup if you hope for an exciting and aggressive game.
Build 2 is my secondary build, and is for passive play.
The main difference here is that you will start off with a Faerie Charm, 2 Wards, 2 Health Pots and a Mana Pot and will help your carry passively farm without fear of ganking from the jungle. Having a passive stance on an aggressive lane can hit your sustainability hard and due to your CDR and mana restrictions early game you may have a tough time keeping your AD carry with the advantage in lane. Use this setup if you expect a passive laning phase until the more important stages of the game.
For Runes,I take [Gold per 5 Quintessences] to help her along since she won't be getting much farm from bot lane.
x9 [Flat Magic Penetration Reds]
Greater Seal of Replenishmentx9 [Flat Mana Regeneration Yellows]
x9 [Flat Ability Power Blues]
This is my preferred Rune setup. You won't be needing CDR runes since you'll eventually have it maxed, and the AP will give you the good early-game power until you can get a Morello's Evil Tome.
For Masteries,The ones listed in Build 1 will probably get me some criticism. I go 9/21/0 for Karma and let me explain why;
I) Short Range -Karma's support capabilities are relatively short-range. Being able to withstand the enemy in the thick of battle is essential as your item build and ability range require it.
II) Poor Sustainability -In the early game, Karma's sustainability at bot lane is lacking. While you do have your cone heal, it not only uses a hefty sum of mana, but uses up a Mantra charge, which is precious when you have only a small amount of CDR at that point in the game.
III) Lane Presence -Karma's passive requires her to take damage in order to be effective. Thus, being a brick-wall in bot lane can help you and your carry have an improved lane presence, as you are taking damage but have the stats to compensate for it. While Karma is naturally tankier than other supports, she needs a bit more of a nudge in the early-mid game to have control of her lane.
IV) Baitage! -In multiple scenarios you will find that if the enemy bot laners jump on you, you'll have the tankiness to withstand their attacks and get your carry a kill or two in the process. Your enemies will freak out when they leap onto you and you don't die in a heartbeat [like most other supports do]
However, if you are still not satisfied with my reasoning, then instead run Build 2 [it is also my recommended build for passive play].
For Summoner Spells,
+ is the most ideal for me;
is a pretty simple choice, if you're in the middle of things and you are taking a bit more than you can handle, you can get out of it in an instant or even save a team mate from certain death.
The alternative to is , however Cleanse is a lot more situational in its use and if you find yourself running Cleanse + Heal you can get rid of the mastery point in the support tree and get the magic pen instead. Cleanse is good, but I'd suggest it only if the team is jam-packed with CC.
is a preference, not a rule. I find it good because it just helps your team even more in team fights on top of your awesome team heal.
The alternative to is for obvious reasons. CV can provide excellent map awareness especially if you want to focus more on your build and don't have much money for wards.
Support Karma's build
if the game is early enough and you have a lot of gold. Get this instead of your Banshee's Veil. Grabbing this early enough can let you skip the Morello's Evil Tome and go for a Glacial Shroud [and later on building it into a Frozen Heart]
Shurelya's Reverie is also another great support item. Get this if you need the extra mobility [as Karma is a slow champion] for you and your team. I would probably get this over the Locket of the Iron Solari, and build this out of your Philosopher's Stone.
How To Progress Your Build:
OR + 3 Wards and Pots
If you expect a passive laning phase and you just want to farm up with your AD carry [and the enemy is just going to farm up] then go with the option of a Faerie Charm and wards + pots [get a mana pot in there]. Recommended against a sustain lane or with a sustain lane. Start with this if running Build 2.
If you expect an aggressive laning phase or really want to get your AD carry into the other enemy's faces, then play it exciting with a Doran's Ring. You do play a bit more risky but this'll provide you with the HP, mana and AP to keep yourself and your carry alive. Also allows for a lot more poke potential if the enemy doesnt have a sustain lane. Start with this if running Build 1.
Philosopher's Stone when you first return to base, and make sure you have enough gold to pick up this and a few wards. This'll give you the adequate gold income throughout the majority of the game's length [aswell as the regen on it].
if you haven't already picked it up. It is a good pool of AP, HP and mana regen and is a must by for someone like Karma.
on your next return and pick up a few wards, though if you can manage to get those and still have enough money left over pick up .
will nearly max out your CDR, give more AP for your abilities and even more sweet sweet mana regeneration. Pick up more wards while you are here.
or will be your next buy. Get a Morello's if the game is going well and you aren't being heavily focused, and get the Catalyst if things are shaky and you are getting focused a lot. When you get one of these items, you get the other afterwards.
is the item you can now get. However, if a tanky type in your group can manage to get one instead of yourself then that would be fantastic and you can focus on warding the map.
will almost equalize your Magic Resist with your Armor rating. It'll make you more tanky and able to take more of the heat due the close proximity of your spells.
will not only help your team but give yourself a nice pool of AP, especially at this point in the game. Get this by replacing your Doran's Ring.
I don't generally play games past this point in my item build, however if it is still dragging on this is what I would get;
is a great aura item and if you can remember to use the active you'll rarely not hit all of your allies with this item since you have to be so close to them. However, a good alternative would be to replace your Philosopher's Stone with Shurelya's Reverie if you and your team are having trouble keeping up with the enemy or getting away. I don't get it because it'll give you pointless CDR, and your W in the lategame is an adequate speed-up.
will make your enemies quake when they see what you can do with it. A definite must on Karma in the late-game.
should be purchased last by replacing . You won't be losing much AP and you make up for it by having a sweet aura, a big mana pool and a ton of armor.
Tips and Tricks with Support Karma
First and foremost, your role in a team is SUPPORT. Thats what you came to this guide for, right? The support playstyle of Karma? That involves plenty of wards and an when you've reached a certain point in your build.
You may be wondering why my build for Karma involves so many AP items when your general support only focuses on aura items.
Karma cannot be built like your average support.
She lacks an ultimate and because of that her dependancy on her abilities is far greater than other supports, and if she doesn't have any AP to complement her great AP scaling you won't find yourself doing much at all.
Here are a few gameplay tips I can suggest:
I) Focus on your support capabilities and not your nuking power. While choosing when and what to Mantra should be based on the situation and good judgement, understand that your allies are their to do the damage for you, your AP carry is supposed to be doing the majority of the AP damage. You can break this rule in the early game and even mid game but late game focus on keeping yourself and teammates alive.
II) Using on a Mantra on your W is almost a waste. Karma's Spirit Bond does not match up to the effectiveness of using a mantra on her shield or frontal cone. Unless you are level 18 with a maxed Spirit Bond, you won't find a mantra'd Spirit Bond doing much at all.
III) Use your Mantra charges wisely. They are a core part of your kit and are supposed to make up for the lack of an ultimate. Blowing two Mantras at the start of a team fight on both your shield and your heal will leave you straddling around the rest of the fight wondering what to do. Weigh up whether a Mantra'd shield is worth it, or whether the normal shield and two cone heals would be more worthwhile, or even whether two Mantra'd shields will get a Kill Secured.
IV) Remember to use your Heavenly Wave when waiting for a Mantra charge! You may find yourself forgetting to use your Q even when you don't have any mantra charges available because you decide to wait for the mantra before using it, but with such a short cooldown not using it in a team fight is a waste, especially when it can hit upto five targets. This applies to your other abilities as well, it is wasted potential if all you do is wait for Mantra charges before using them.
V) Bait the other team at bot lane. As I mentioned before, you are tanky support Karma, you can take the hits, and when the enemy blows all of their abilities on you and you manage to stay alive, your carry will mop them up and they'll rethink of jumping on you again.
VI) Communicate with your team. You won't do well unless you work with your teammates and get everyone buying a ward or two, maybe even an Oracle's, since it is a team effort.
VII) Have a good team composition. Karma works best with tanky DPS champions, so having an in-your-face AD carry like Vayne or Graves will let Karma be used to her full potential, aswell as having tanky melee champions in the jungle or top lane. Champions who are passive or tend to stay outside of a team-fight do not meld with Karma's playstyle.
Thank you for going through my guide! Hopefully you've learned something useful about The Enlightened One and it helps you on your journey to becoming a better Karma. I understand there are other Karma guides like the one from Egypsian_Lover, and his guide was the first I used when I started playing Karma. However, through careful and long-term experimentation, the guide you see here today is what I found works best for me.
Karma does not receive much love nowadays and is probably the least played champion of the league, but it is her hidden capabilities that make her such a strong champion. I assure you, practice makes perfect, and with how versatile and capable she is, Karma is no exception.
If you have any questions or can suggest improvements, please leave them in the comments section. And as always, please try my build first and see how it works before down-voting me. Feedback is appreciated!