Karma Build Guide by Faye
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.
Karma, the enlightened one, is a very strong addition to many teams, while she lacks the cc of Sona or Janna, she excells at keeping her team alive, while punishing the enemy team members nearby her allies. She's also a great pusher, able to even shield and heal creeps to extend the duration she can stay attacking turrets.
this build, will focus on maximising especially her shield's potential, but due to her superior scaling, her heal and damage will gradually increase untill she's not to be taken lightly even by enemy tanks.
This build works for any lane, I've sucessfully done 1v2 lanes, however I think she is best in lane with an allied champion as to give her team's other carry an experience and gold advantage. There are minor differences between the builds wich I will mention below in appropriate sections.
Duo 2v2 lane
Marks - Spell Penetration
Glyphs - Scaling Ability Power
Seals - Scaling MP5
Quintessence - Flat Ability Power
Solo 1v2 lane
Marks, Glyphs and Seals remain the same, however you change the Quintessence for flat HP, as to be able to survive a bit of extra punishment in form of harass since your starting item will not have hp as stat.
The choice of scaling and flat runes are the eternal question, my opinion is that any decent game will last up to the 45 min mark, however, if the rune is not strong enough to overcome the flat version by lvl 6(some are not untill you're above 10), I'd recommend considering the flat version for the early game impact.
These glyphs are not very strong in terms of pure defensive stats, such as Armor or Magic Resist, however, it is not needed on a champion such as Karma, as she will remain behind her creeps, or allies, and dish out pain from a distance, not to mention the fact that the more Ability Power she get, the stronger her Shield and Heal will become, wich serves as another type of defense.
I choose Clarity and Clarvoyance, I will adress the benefits of Clarity in the item topic, however, some people preffere Teleport, Ghost, or even Flash over Clarity, there are cases where this is more usefull, but Karma is already a very forgiving champion, and I feel having that extra map awareness isn't too much of a hassle in comparison to the benefits of Clarity.
The masteries I choose, are a somewhat generic 9/0/21 support build, many people make the mistake of maxing out Intelligence and Sorcery, wich I find somewhat ironic as doing so is not very intelligent at all. the reason for this is that the most commonly used Cooldown Reducing items have either 20 or 15 CD Reduction, like the two I use for my build.
This way you will have plenty Mana Regen, and an ever increasing maximum mana with both Expanded Mind and Archangel Staff. I also chose to go for increased buff duration as against very defensive teams an entire Baron buff can go to waste.
Insight is a must have for any support using Clarity, as a non talented Clarity will barely touch some champion's mana pool. However, Mystical Vision can in some cases be traded for Greed if the situation would arise where the map awareness is good enough without it.
There are slight differences between the item builds would you chose to play karma in a duo or solo lane, as mentioned in the Rune section above, the major change is that instead of starting with a Doran's Ring for duo lane, I chose to instead go with a Regrowth Pendant and Mana Potion in solo lane.
This is actually a very important change, while in a duo lane, you will never, or should barely ever be hit by harass, as you will stay behind creeps and any allied champion that is with you. therefore, you will not take enough damage to warrant a Regrowth Pendant, and as such, the increased Ability Power, both from the item alone, and the change of Runes wich follows, not to mention the increased MP5 are vastly superior the Regrowth Pendant wich you would otherwise pick in a solo lane.
I praise Doran's Ring as starter item, and yet I chose a Regrowth Pendant + Mana Pot, on a champion with both a strong shield and heal, there is a very valid reason for this. While in a solo lane, you will be the focus of all the enemie's harass, and you will also have to clear creeps, something you would otherwise never think of doing as support in a lane together with an allied carry. And as such, using that almost half minute long cooldown to heal, instead of clearing creeps with an empowered shield will in the end be very punishing in terms of efficiency.
In duo lane, your second item will be a Tear of the Godess, once you have 1070g, and the lane is safe and cleared, base immidiately to pick it up along with a Ward if the enemy is roaming or has a jungler, otherwise base at 995g for the Tear. The sooner you start charging it up, the sooner your mana pool will approach end game quality, not to mentions talents such as Expanded Mind multiplying it's own effectiveness. As a sidenote, carefully consider warding Dragon, while it is another 75g, Warwick is capable of soloing it as early as lvl 4 together with a teammate, and with little difficulty at lvl 6 alone.
Whereas in solo lane, you will base immidiately upon reaching 790g to pick up your Philosopher's Stone and Boots along with a Ward, or as above, base at 715 if you feel safe without one. The reason for not basing already at 365g to pick up the Stone alone for the GP5 is that you will lose even more while running back, without boots. On your next base pick up Tear.
After a while, you will notice that you're not even having to use Clarity that much anymore, and propably consider swapping it for something else the next game. I strongly recommend against this, as it is vital early game, and will prove to be usefull in extended combat late game, especially talented as it can allow your team to not worry too much about harassing themself oom.
As for the next items, I pick up Ionian Boots of Lucidity, as the CD Redcution will allow me to harass more due to shorter CD Mantra, not to mention the fact that by now I'm usually dominating the lane and need to be able to run away if something or someone should appear out of nowhere(Yes, everyone is human and forgets to watch map sometimes), not to mention the fact that by now your enemies will start finishing their boots as well.
The next item is either a Frozen Heart, or a Morello's Evil Tome, depending on how hard I feel focused by the enemy team. The Frozen heart is always inferior to an Evil Tome on Karma due to her ap scalings, and if you have a reliable tank that is there for teamfights definately skip the Frozen Heart as he should have one. I pick up the smaller built items first, as they have a stronger stat per gold rate. While the 40 AP looks tempting, having that slightly lower AP, some more MP5 and even some CD reduction is overall the better choice.
I did mention Karma's outstanding scaling, right? I quote my friend "Why the hell do I play Le'Blanc for?" At this point, if I'm not being ripped apart by that Brand who was fed by bot who are talking leetspeak and refusing to waste money on wards(in wich case I just pick up an early negatron cloak) I also consider doing this after finishing the smaller built items for the Evil Tome or Frozen Heart. Be aware of the game as a whole, not just your lane. Get that Deathcap and consider cackling maniacly depending on your mood. Once you have it, your shield will cover so much of that already beefy Alistar's hp bar that you get a warm fuzzy feeling spreading from your toes.
At this point, your enemies will realise they're not going to kill anyone as long as you're there for them, and as such, I chose to finish my build slightly defensively, while beefing up the strength of the Shield and Heal along with the punishment that you inflict. Next item is either an Abyssal Scepter, or an Hourglass, the order depends on the enemy team and who you take the most dmg from. However, if you tend to die in 3 seconds always get the hourglass first, as a puny Scepter won't save you from that 2.5k Veigar combo.
At last, I finish that Archangel Staff that has partly been in my inventory for almost the entire game.
There are 2 more options when it comes to items, "if" and I say if, the enemy team is completely destroying you due to being overfed or farmed and whatnot, you may consider swapping the Ionian Boots for a pair of good old Mercury Treads, to get away from those stuns, slows, snares that have you weeping in frustration as you try to escape, the other option, is the abyssal scepter, I am well aware of that mean little yordle Veigar, and his sneaky stuns. If you wish to not die to Veigar with 1000 ap, while having 500 yourself, grab a Quicksilver Sash instead of the Abyssal Scepter to get out of his stun and harms way.
Karma is an unique champion in that she is capable of using her ultimate as early as level one, and the remaining of her spells having 6 ranks instead of 5. Her passive is also a very strong addition to her, with her extraordinary scaling. The lower hp Karma currently has, the more AP she recieves from it. While her ultimate Mantra isn't a spell on it's own, it adds a depth to the character. It works simmilarly to Akali and Teemo's ultimates, in that it refreshes charges over time(maximum 2). However, there is no function such as Akali's refreshing on kill or assist. Instead, CD reduction lowers the refresh rate of this and therefore making a full CD red build more potent.
Always max Soul Shield first. Get it at lvl 1, and finish it at lvl 9. Yes, this require you to predict your enemies course of action, but that is also everything that Karma is about. This is a lot easier than it sounds, if you prematurely shield that crazed Xin Zhao charging screaming things like "D3M4C14!!!!" in the /all chat, people won't really have much of a choice but to wear the shield down to get to him. Karma's mana is really strong with this build and you are capable of using shield even when not currently under attack, so shield people up IN CASE they will be, obviously this is an act of balance you will have to find out for yourself.
Secondly, her Heavenly Wave, is a very strong tool when coupled with the shield as it allow you to over and over swap between shield and heal, whereas other supports really only have one main heal to spam. This is also used for clearing creep waves together with Mantra empowered shields, whereas the Spirit Bond spell does deal damage to enemies who cross it, it is far more prone to fail in clearing the entire wave out, not to mention it's target taking no damage whatsoever. Pick this up at lvl 2, and skip it at lvl 4 in favor for one rank in Spirit Bond.
Spirit Bond is an underused spell, and one thing you will need to master when it comes to Karma, it's a very unique spell, and you will have to do a lot of practice with this one, it may seem weak, however, if empowered by Mantra your enemies will appear in slow motion. This spell is used early to clear creep waves as well during the time when you're saving those Mantra stacks, or empowered shield+Wave just isn't enough to bring them down, use with caution however as this one likely will put you in range of the enemies harass. Max this one last, while it is definately not weak, the other spells are too potent to be overlooked.
While in duo lane, I focus my Mantra charges on Heavenly Wave and Spirit bond most of the time, unless we're pushing for a kill on an already slowed target, in wich case I add to the damage with an empowered shield, cautious of stealing the kill, as she is a support and the carry benefits more from the gold.
However, in both solo lane and duo lane, I sometimes attempt to harass my enemies by shielding creeps nearby the enemies with Mantra empowered shields, while in solo lane this does not always work that well, as the enemy will likely be someone who are capable of taking a fair bit of punishment without having to leave the lane, f ex Mordekaiser or Vladimir. However, duo lanes regularly have two champions with no way to regen their lost hp outside potions. Be cautious of stealing last hits on creeps however, as they should at least in 8 to 2 cases go to the carry.
A non empowered rank 1 Spirit Bond won't slow the enemy down significantly, however, if empowered it may just be that wich allows you to score a kill before they reach the safety of the turret.
To clear creep waves solo, first position yourself between the meelee and ranged creeps, use an empowered shield and move to the side, so that you will hit all 6 of them with your Heavenly Wave. If this is not enough for a kill, hit the furthest creep(with enough hp to last the duration), and walk back and forward as to catch every creep in the line.
While duo, focus on shielding your ally as to allow him more last hits, and harass, heal him up from time to time should he get low, and otherwise aid him by trying to harass the enemies, do never underestimate the value of melee attacks, even from an ap based support early game, as the enemies rarely feel like taking unecessary damage and denying even one or two last hits even if it means taking one or two hits from the enemy you've come out of the battle as victor, since your carry will be busy farming creeps whereas they can't.
She's a forgiving character to play, with both her shield and heal, her laning power is astonishing, and forcing Morgana out of a solo lane is even possible.
Pros / Cons
Pros: Having both an Heal and a Shield makes her a very effective counter towards champions who has either an ability to lower healing done, or ignite, something especially Soraka is very weak against. A slow wich also works as a movement speed increase is a very effective way of escaping ganks or catching up to runners. Having more Ability Power the lower hp you have can sometimes cause enemies to underestimate you just to take massive ammounts of damage and sometimes turning the tides of battle. Her healing power, while weaker than say Soraka's, is at least on par, or even above Sona's in terms of aoe throughput. Where Both Sona and Soraka's main abilities are single target alone Karma can heal her entire team at once.
Cons: She is not able to use her heal if she does not currently have any mantra stacks. In addition her major source of damage with my build(early game, untill lvl 13) is negated if this is the case as well. She is not capable of using her movement speed increase unless she is nearby either an NPC or Champion of either team wich sometimes leads to her slowing down a team where many champions have some simmilar ability. Maximizing her passive is a very dangerous thing to do as staying on low hp for long durations of time can cause enemies to decide tower diving is worth it(example). Where her heal is aoe, she pays for this by exchanging the solo target throughput of Soraka for weaker solo target healing(somewhat paid off by having a shield as well).
While in a teamfight with Karma, you want to stay out of harms way, as she is not a very durable champion if focused by 2 or more enemy champions, learn to position yourself in such a way that your allies blocks the path, while staying in range for heals and shields as the situation calls. Shield the ally that is the hardest focus, not the one with the lowest hp, however, aim your heal for the one with the lowest hp most of the time, as it is usually not possible to hit everyone with it, unless they are very used to having a Karma in the team, this is a moment 52 situation as staying together renders you more vulnerable to enemy aoe abilities as well.
Karma is a support, and as such she is supposed to(most people will agree here) buy wards in most cases, especially if she is at the bot or mid lane, since Dragon, and later, Baron are very important resources in many games. Warding the entrances to the enemy jungle, and in some cases your own blue and red buffs, or even the enemy buffs coupled with Clarvoyance pays off as they allow your team the map awareness to either gank, or harass enemy team members trying to collect these treasures.
Do not, ever, underestimate the value of an early Oracle as a support champion, especially(I felt like capitalizing that), if your team has a jungler, if this is the case, the enemy team is more than likely to ward the river brushes nearby the lanes, and clearing those wards can pay off splendidly as they in extreme cases even force the enemy out of the lane for new wards. The option to this, if you fear being ganked, is to yourself go the extra mile and get a ward of your own, but not a normal one, no, one that sees invisible targets, then place this nearby positions where you think your enemy will have placed theirs.
Faye says thanks for reading
I thank you for reading this guide, it is my first League of Legends guide and I hope it will prove usefull to some people who have recently purchased, or consider purchasing Karma, she is one of the most fun and interesting champions I own, and I've already purchased half of the currently available one's, good luck on the Fields of Justice, feel free to add me on my EU account Fayeh if you have any questions regarding this guide or the game in general, For IONIA!