Karma Build Guide by Nenna
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.
About me: Hey guys, I am very new to making builds so hopefully this ends up being helpful for some people despite my lack of experience. Luckily I hope to make up for that with my knowledge of support characters. Please let me if there is information I missed that you would like to see pertaining to this build.
In ranked, I play nothing but support characters and in my opinion the team with the better support will win the game. And believe me, Karma is definately up there with the other great supports. For most, Janna and Soraka are in the god tier for support, and everyone else just wallows in the filth below. But Karma most certainly can hold her own against the windy/unicorn duo. The biggest reason I have wanting to write this build is to show people just how well Karma can perform.
This build in particular will focus on how Karma can not only support her team, but also serve as an off-tank, soaking up damage and disabling opponents. This build is intended for ranked play, so keep in that in mind before whining about how this build doesn't give Karma any AP or farm. Her job is to support, so get lots of assist and as few last hits as possible.
There are some people that think supports are not necessary, even in higher level play. Some people think a team needs four carries. The same ones that have no idea how to play a support champion. The people that build AP on Sona and gripe about Corki stealing her kill.
This chapter is here for the people who aren't really sure what a support should do.
-Protect teammates (shield, CC the enemy, help teammate escape, etc)
-Assist teammates in getting kills
-Provide vision of the map, via wards or Clairvoyance
-Sacrifice yourself in place of carries if necessary
-Assist teammates in pushing towers
-Steal kills from carries (purposely of course)
-Last hit minions when your carry is in lane with you
-Initiate enemies in a team fight
-Waste spells to harass. This leaves you without that spell for a few seconds and burns mana too quickly
Essentially the goal is to have the enemy team despise you for denying them kills :3
Pros / Cons
So why Karma?
Well the short answer is she can do a lot. She has a spammable heal, a versatile soft CC that can keep up with a changing battlefield, and a basic sheild that doubles as a deterrent for melee characters. What makes this all wonderful is that fact that it is in ONE package. Compared to Janna, whose heal is not viable for early game lane maintain, or Soraka who lacks a sheild or any form of movement CC, Karma is a jack-of-all-trades in terms of support.
Let's break down the skills:
Q: Heavenly Wave
-Can hit multiple teammates for a heal
-Heals Karma on cast
-Heals for a flat amount, plus % of missing health, plus more % based on AP. Great for close saves because it heals more per % of health missing
-Decent AoE damage, so good for farm
-Requires a mantra charge to heal. This isn't a problem early or mid game, but late game it can be annoying in longer team fights.
-Cannot heal without dealing damage to enemies in the cone, thus can kill steal on accident
W: Spirit Bond
-Amazing chase tool
-Great for escapes
-Rarely requires a mantra charge to be effective
-Can slow/haste multiple targets (if used right. see below)
-Her only form of CC
-Hitting extra targets with the tether can be difficult without lots of coordination
-Deals no damage to target, and getting enemies in the tether can be hard
E: Soul Shield
-When cast with a mantra charge, is a VERY good deterrent against a chasing melee. If you cast this with a mantra charge on someone being chased by a melee, 80% of the time the enemy will turn back. Damage and a shield turns the tide very quickly.
-It's a shield. That's pretty awesome.
-Like Heavenly Wave, it can kill steal by accident. But only if cast with a mantra charge.
-Gives Karma a lot of versatility, which makes her actions hard to predict for the enemy team
Cons: (Unfortunately, this is where Karma can fall short)
-Restricts Karma to three skills, only one of which can deal damage consistently without a charge
-Two charges is not a lot
-Late game (or just long) team fights put a strain on her charge usage
Overall Karma is great for doing a lot of things, but in long team fights her usefulness can diminish. Where she falls short hard CC, she makes up for it in pure versatility in both skills and roles as a support and an offtank.
Runes: Flat Health Quints, Flat Health Marks, Mana Regen Seals, Cooldown Reduction Glyphs
With runes, I stray from the typically caster runes to make for a sturdy Karma early game. Originally these runes were put together for Kayle, taking advantage of her high health. But I realized that it was a great setup for Karma who, as a support, is expected to be a squishy target. While health per level has greater returns in game, flat health really gives Karma that early game advantage to stay alive. Also, it gives her quite a bit of AP when low on health thanks to her passive. Another nice perk is that you do not need to buy a Doran's Ring first to make up for squishiness.
Cooldown Reduction and Mana Regen are normal for casters in general, so not much to explain here. Cooldown helps her mantra charges come back up faster, mana regen to stay in lane.
Alternatives: In my opinion, Runes are not so game changing that the wrong runes can ruin a game. Perhaps the one exception is the difference between having flat health quints and not having them. If there is one rune set I think anyone should have on Karma its flat health quints.
Other options for her: (flat or per level)
While its up to personal preference with runes, I don't suggest AP or Magic Penetration for the simple reason that it does not fit Karma's role. Build her for support, not as a caster aimed at doing damage.
: First off let me say that you should ALWAYS take clairovyance . It is you duty as the support and 98% of the time the tank won't take it. Clairvoyance is extremely helpful for scoping out enemy junglers at their buffs, checking Baron and Dragon, getting vision in a bush before you ward, finding out what starting items the enemy took, scoping out a lane before minions spawn....You get the idea.
: I take flash for a few reasons, but mostly for the unconventional reasons of saving your teammates. With it you can take skill shots for you carry if you were otherwise too far away. Ashe's arrow or Volley, Caitlyn's ult, Mundo's cleaver, Ez's mystic shot, etc are all body blockable. While some require more prediction than others, you can usually figure out when someone is going to try to use a skill shot and get in front of it. Never be afraid to use flash to get closer to a teammate in danger; its better to use up flash to get in shield or heal range of a teammate than to have them die.
Of course you can always use to flash for your own escapes and jukes.
Alternatives (in order of prefernce)
: Tele is great to get from one lane to another for surprise support. Your solo top needs help fast? Tele there and throw down some support. Also fits in the 21 in utility mastery recommendation.
Exhaust can be a decent spell to take, especially since the typically ranked game currently features the support and ad carry bottom lane. Its nice to take for the damage reduction, but since your Spirit Bond slows it's not really necessary. One nice little benefit though is you can take improved exhaust without messing up your masteries.
: Ghost shouldn't need much explanation for uses. In karma's case, its nice for escapes ro getting to overextended teammates for a Spirit Bond or heal. Like exhaust, you can take the improved form without any damage to your masteries.
: Overall, its not worth it have two heals and just clairvoyance.
: As a support you will always be laning with a partner and they won't always be mana-based. So if you take clarity it would probably be for yourself only. Considering the build and play style suggested in this build you should not have any mana problems.
: It's better to take something that benefits your teammates more. While getting out of a stun is nice, with mercury treads you should be ok.
: This is usually something I think should fall under the tanks job, especially since they have the hard CC that really takes advantage of punishing tower divers.
: The biggest problem with this is the potential to kill steal from your carry. Besides that, it doesn't really offer much for your team besides damage and the heals debuff, but that's not your job.
Any other spells I left out are the obvious no-no's: Smite, Revive, Rally. Smite is for junglers only, Rally is not buff enough to be worth a summoner spell spot, and Revive is just a flat out no.
Masteries are more flexible now post-Fizz patch, but in general you still focus on the utility tree. Take what you can for mana and cooldown reduction, then fill out whatever you want really. I like to reach 21 in utility for the summoner spell cooldown reduction, and I also padded out the utility tree a bit more. The extra starting gold can let you grab another ward, which is very nice, and I then dropped a few points in defense just to boost your early game durability. Since this layout could use a lot more testing considering how new it is, I may make more changes. Keep in mind masteries can be up to personal preference and always try to experiment, especially now with the new trees.
1) - ,sight ward x3, / ,
2) - philosopher's stone,
3) - ,
4) - / ==> /
6) - shurelya's reverie or any alternative listed below
1) - The starting items are standard for a support: One faerie charm, three sight wards, and one mana potion. You can take two health potions instead instead, but in general I find mana more helpful in the first few levels. The wards are absolutely necessary, even at level one.
2) - By the time you are able to shop again, you should have enough for a philosopher's stone and boots of speed. Pick up more wards if you can.
3) - Next grab a health crystal to make a heart of gold. I absolutely recommend mercury's treads, as the other tenacity items do not fit the build at all.
(At some point mid game you want to pick up an oracle's elixer, even if your tank has already it's nice to have multiple oracle's at one time if the team is split up.)
4) - From here you have a few options: While I recommend glacial shroud, if the enemy AD carry isn't worrying you it should not be your next item. Instead consider grabbing a negatron cloak for an early banshee's veil. Regardless, I still absolutely recommend getting a glacial shroud for an eventual frozen heart. In this build you should still have both frozen heart and banshee's, but may build them in any order depending on what the match calls for.
5) - I highly suggest getting randuin's omen, as the cool down reduction is nice and the active really helps Karma force a lot of enemies to back off.
6) - Eventually you can pick up a shurelya's reverie or can just hang on to the philospher's stone. Or you can sell the stone and get one of the alternatives below. You'll notice this build leaves you with an extra slot; that is so that you can ward the map all game.
Alternatives: These are items that will work with this build and play style and may be built at anytime depending on the needs of the team.
: A great item for Karma; it has health that goes towards her passive, CDR to keep her mantra charges up, and the passive rocks since her heal always heals herself as well. It's also nice to get since the main build can lack magic resist (at least when compared to the amount of armor.)I suggest you pick it up earlier in game otherwise the bonuses wont feel as significant late game.
: Another item you should grab early, Aegis is nice because the aura helps beef up your teammates. My only problem with it is that I feel the tank should grab it instead. Any jungling tank can easily get it since they start with a cloth armor anyway.
: Decent item, but not a personal favourite of mine. Health and CDR, with a helpful aura. Just not exceptional in my opinion, I'd rather get an item that can balance her armor/magic resist numbers.
: This is borderline for me. On paper, health and AP with some CC is a great item choice for her. But honestly the cost is not worth it, the slow from Randuin's is usually enough for team fights, and this type of Karma does not need AP really. It is still somewhat viable, which is why it is on this list (but its on the bottom).
: I see this a lot on Karma's as a final item and frankly it is just silly. Support rarely get enough farm for it, at least not without sacrificing other items for it. With Karma, copious amounts of AP are not necessary and this is just wasting an item slot.
: Save that catalyst for a Banshee's, you are much better off with defensive stats then AP.
Skill sequence is pretty malleable, but I suggest you start with Soul Shield for a few resons. Initially its shield is helpful when protecting your jungler pre-laning phase. Once your jungler starts taking hits (by golem usually) you can drop a shield, without mantra, to help him/her out a bit. If a team fight breaks out in this phase, the shield is great for keeping the ganked/ganking teammate alive.
In the laning phase at level one, shield is nice just for blocking skill shots. You shouldn't need your heal at this point so I say shield is a definite first pick.
Next grab Heavenly Wave at level two. You may be able to get a you carry a kill at this point, but that's usually only if someone got careless.
At Level three get Spirit Bond so at this point you have your full arsenal at your disposal.
From here, the choice of sequence is up to you. In general I just alternate leveling up Heavenly Wave and Soul Shield, leaving Spirit Bond for last. You can focus one skill first; if you do that I suggest the shield. This can keeps the mana cost for your heal low and make the shield a more useful/deadly skill (great for deterring aggressive enemies). Alternatively, you can max the heal first to increase the heal amount since you won't build AP in this build. Or, you can level each skill up equally, probably in the order of shield, heal, then CC. This is helpful in keeping all the mana costs at a more manageable level as higher ranks of shield can hit your mana bar hard if you level it first then don't manage your mana well. In general though you should not have many mana problems with this build after Philosopher's stone if you keep to the plan of not using skills to harass.
Since this build was made for ranked play there isn't anything to specify or change in the guide. I will point out a few things to do, although most of them are standard for supports in ranked.
-Around the time you team groups up at Golem, clairvoyance the enemy golem camp at the point that will reveal both the camp and the bushes between the camp and mid. Here are a few good locations to use clairvoyance while with the jungler (pardon the bad Paint skills and boob-shaped icons). This map is for when on the purple team; CV the opposite spots when on blue.
- If you are on Blue, ask your solo top if they would like a ward dropped in the river bush. This can be helpful in keeping an early gank off them from the enemy jungler. After you shield the jungler, run up and drop the ward then head to you lane bottom. You will be about 15 seconds behind your lane mate but so long as they don't facecheck any bushes they should be ok without you.
- Around level two drop a ward in your lane's river bush. Depending on if you used a ward top, you should have one or two extra wards by now. If two, you can leave a ward in the bottom bushes that hug the wall. Having constant vision there can be helpful if the enemy carry is trying to poke from the bushes.
- Don't last hit minions, leave those to your carry. Instead, weave back and forth in between your ranged and melee minions. From here, use your auto attacks to poke at either enemy. Karma is beefy enough early game to be able to take a few hits should they retaliate but usually they focus more on last hitting.
- By now I hope you understand how important wards are, if not I will say it again; always ALWAYS buy wards. Don't leave base without one (two even). While I think everyone on a team should buy them, it is usually your job to provide vision. Here are some good ward locations. Again, please excuse the Paint skills. Spacing out your wards is important and I suggest having at least 3-4 active at anytime. Putting down vision wards at dragon and Baron are particularly important if you don't have an oracle's yet, not only does it clear out their vision of the area when you destroy their ward but it also makes them spend extra gold on more wards (which you will be able to watch them place if your ward is still up).
This is probably the most important chapter for Karma. As a support she is reliant on the team to fulfill the objectives of the game and of course, her team relies on her to keep them alive while doing so. Communication and coordination are key so try to keep the chat filled with 'mia' and 'care' calls to help keep your team from getting ganked. Here's a few things Karma can do with the team:
- She works exceptionally well with any melee character: Spirit Bond an ally or foe to allow your melee to catch up. Once they are in range, use Soul Shield with a mantra charge on them. Heal them if the fight continues and spirit bond again for their escape. Great for Udyr with Bear Stance and Gangplank with Raise Morale. Spirit bond is also nice for Akali, Jax, and Katarina who some times need just that extra movement speed boost to blink to their targets
- Amumu, Leona and Blitzcrank are good targets for a Soul Shield with a mantra charge as they are great initiators and pull a champ in/pull themselves to a champ. Essentially its just a nice way to add more sneaky damage on an already sneaky approach.
- Sometimes its difficult to get your allies grouped together for a heal. Let them know in chat you want to heal and they should sit still for a bit.
- Try to remind your team that Spirit Bond affects those that pass through it; this way your teammates can try to hit as many allies or foes.
- If blue buff is available and no one on your team has claimed it, ask before you try to get it. And remember Karma is not a fast jungler!
- When a teammate get initiated on, Soul Shield with a mantra charge. The damage won't kill steal since the fight just started and it can deter enemies as their target now has a shield and they took more damage than expected.
- The usually combo for a teammate is Spirit Bond till they reach the target, then mantra Soul Shield, heal if they need it, then Spirit Bond away.
- Tell your solo top to ask for a Clairvoyance whenever they want to push the first tower. Usually its either in the bush in the river, or the tri-bush just below the purple tower.
- Because of the runes for this build you will most likely have more health than your lanemate in the beginning, even if they take a Doran's first. Keep this in mind when it comes to checking bushes (if CV is down) or zoning enemies. This makes you more durable than the enemy support as well; take advantage of this with auto-attack pokes.
- Remind your teammates you have only two mantra charges if they keep asking for a heal every 10 seconds. Also, they may not know (for some reason) that the heal needs a charge so be sure to make that clear if they are pestering too frequently for you to keep up.
- In big teamfights, both Randuin's Omen and Shurylia's Reverie are good for chasing and escaping. If you team gets caught off guard by the enemy pop Randuin's to slow them then hit Shurylia's for a guaranteed escape. Combine with Spirit Bond for extra speed.
Far as I have seen in my Ranked games, very few people play Karma and I've yet to see anyone play her as an off-tank. Even if the game doesn't go long enough to get the tank items that make her an off-tank, the base items act as the typical support items (i.e. Philo stone and Heart of Gold).
Considering the upcoming changes to summoner spells and masteries slated for an upcoming patch, I will reconsider the choices in this build and revise as necessary. Of course :3
Hope this guide was helpful for people that are new to supports, new to Karma, or just looking to try something new for The Enlightened One. Please let me know if there is anything else I should add or or there are any questions about the build.