Karma Build Guide by Brosephiine
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 second guide! This is not just any guide though, this is a guide for my main champion, Karma. And as the title says, Karma is beastly. This is my third champion and once I played her during a free week, I immediately bought her. Not only is she an amazing support to have around, she's deadly. What's even better about her is that she's not a commonly used champion, so many opponents won't know what to expect.
Originally I followed Egypsian_Lover's guide to Karma as it's the top rated guide and man is it stocked full of useful information. I still recommend reading through it. But as I came to know Karma and play her more and more, I found less use for some things and more use for others. This is where this guide comes in.
I'll update this again with more content soon. <33 Check back!
***Update*** I checked over some of the information and I'll probably be tweaking some small things, but it seems not much has changed for her since I made this guide. It should still be pretty fresh, but I'll be double checking and replaying her again to make sure.
If you would like me to add anything to this guide, or have any input on how to better the guide (or any qualms with the information given), please feel free to leave a comment. Just don't be a jerk, I will ignore you.
Please, instead of just downvoting my guide without commenting, I urge you to comment and let me know what you disagree with so that I may approach the issue properly! ANY INPUT IS VALID so long as it's not downright rude.
Karma is a great support champion to have around. Her heal is strong, her shield is strong, her speed boost is great. The thing to keep in mind about her is that she is not your average support champion. She has some great burst damage when you couple her abilities with Mantra as well as being mildly tanky. She can be played as a full support champion without any damage, but I feel this is not how she was designed. A damage dealing, team healing supporttank is a force to be reckoned with. I use the term supporttank simply because her health pool is higher than most support champions, making her feel a little more tanky.
This guide covers the build I use and the techniques I use when playing Karma. It's been said that this might be good for a solo or mid lane, but I don't recommend this. While it's certainly viable if you have no other alternatives, Karma's strength is still support which would be lost while solo laning. She's far more valuable grouped up than alone.
That being said, her item build can be pretty expensive. The second build I listed is more defensive and less expensive, so if you've never played Karma before, I recommend that build until you get the hang of her and feel more comfortable. The first build listed is my all out semi troll build for those games where we're doing really well. Most of the time that is what I build. Both builds are powerful and efficient.
Pros & Cons
+Heavy burst damage.
+Decent run speed boost.
+No need to learn Mantra as an ability.
+Great health pool.
-Heal is dependent on Mantra.
-Easy to go through stacks of Mantra quickly.
-Items tend to be expensive for a support.
-Can be difficult to play correctly.
-Easy to kill-steal by accident (which could anger your teammates).
Unlike other champions that benefit from flat bonus runes, Karma works best with per level runes. As a support, she does not need to dominate early game, but come level 5 or 6 she'll be strong enough to hold her own.
Magic Penetration isn't easy to find, which means Greater Mark of Magic Penetration and Greater Quintessence of Magic Penetration are great choices, even for most mages. This also means that with any other mage champions you choose, your Karma rune page should benefit them just as much. I have found that it does not work very well with Ahri. She feels too weak early game when used with this rune page, just a warning. Especially with Greater Seal of Scaling Ability Power and Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power. I frequently use my Karma rune page with Annie, Morgana, and Cassiopeia and each champion is just as strong as the last.
Expanded Mind : This is great to have in my opinion. Karma's early game mana problems are easily countered with the right items, but I honestly think you can never have too much mana, so taking this mastery is a great idea. I wouldn't recommend it, but taking Good Hands is a decent alternative.
Summoner's Insight : Taking this is key, as it affects two of your summoner spell choices; Clarity and Clairvoyance(CV). CV is a great spell to take as a support as is Clarity. We'll go over that later, but chances are you'll be taking one of these two spells.
Meditation : The second tier after Expanded Mind is also great to have. Any sort of mana regen is lovely. This will help you stay less reliant on mana regen items, though snagging one of those is not a bad idea either.
Scout : As support, your team will probably expect you to be buying Sight Ward throughout the game. This is a good habit to practice in games. The more of the map you can see, the more aware of your surroundings you are, the less prone to ganks you and your teammates will be. Having increased vision can give you a second more to get back to safety or countergank.
Greed : I feel this mastery is controversial. I personally like it as a support champion since your laning partner should be getting most of the minion kills. Partner this with a +gold item and you won't need much farm to get your items.
Awareness : Because most of your minion kills and champion kills will go to your teammates, this is a good mastery to take.
Sage : As support you should be racking up assists like crazy, which makes this mastery very useful. At 10 assists, you've gained an extra 400 experience. Not too shabby.
Intelligence : I love having cooldown reduction on Karma. The faster you can use your abilities the better. It could mean life or death for you or your teammates.
Mastermind : This is another goodie for your summoner spells. The more abilities you have available the better. Especially useful for Clairvoyance, Clarity, and Heal.
Mental Force : Ability Power will make your abilities stronger, so snagging this is definitely a good way to go.
Sorcery : "What sorcery is this?!" It's more cooldown reduction!! Don't say no to it! Max it out and be thankful for the gift. :)
Arcane Knowledge : This magic penetration mixed with the cooldown reduction is really why we're going down the offense tree here. This mixed with Abyssal Scepter is pretty delicious.
Heal has always been a great spell in my opinion. Because of your reliance on Mantra, you may not always be able to heal right away. This can definitely pose problems and it's something I ran into frequently. I tend to be a little overzealous with Mantra. If you're having the same problems, this is a great summoner spell to pick up.
Clarity is another spell I've been ridiculed for choosing, but I tend to harass and farm a lot with Heavenly Wave. This generally isn't a problem, but once you start charging Soul Shield and harassing with that as well, it can drain your mana quickly. If you're the kind of player that likes to harass, having Clarity will help. Be careful though, you'll want to make sure you're still supporting the person you're laning with. Karma is very powerful, but she's still support. There are cons to taking this spell, however. Karma's mana problems are easily taken care of early game with the right items, so eventually you may not need Clarity. That being said, if your team composition is purely mana based, you may want to pick it up to help them.
Clairvoyance is the most commonly used Summoner spell for support champions. It definitely has it's uses. It allows you to check brush, ward Baron or dargon (that was intentional misspelling), or ward red/blue buff in the jungle. Definitely a strong spell to pick up, though not one that I like to use. I would prefer to lay down wards as they last longer. Even though it takes more time to run around warding everything, the duration of the wards and the amount of map they will reveal at once is stronger than Clairvoyance in my opinion. HOWEVER: I strongly suggest taking this spell in place of Heal if you dislike having such a frowned upon Summoner spell because it is one of the best options.
Flash generally is a universal champion pick, often being picked by the entire team ("Those guys are the flashiest team around!"). Not to mention, Flash will get you kills. Flash+ Mantra+ Soul Shield+ Heavenly Wave is a great way to take down an enemy champion, and no one will expect it. That being said, there are more effective spells to choose from on Karma as you are playing support.
Ghost is a strong spell to pick up for most champions and I've seen a few Karmas pick it up. However, I do not recommend picking this up as you already have a run speed boost in Spirit Bond.
Exhaust can be a great spell, but I rage when I see another Karma pick this up. Spirit Bond has the same effects as Exhaust when used on an enemy player. This is another spell for the "Disregard" list.
Inner Flame [Passive] is such a good ability. If you're missing health, you gain ability power. This means that at low health, a quick self cast Soul Shield charged with Mantra can easily kill the champion attacking you if they too are low on health.
Heavenly Wave [Q] will be your healing ability when charged with Mantra. Not only will this heal multiple targets including yourself, but it will damage multiple enemy targets in a cone in front of Karma. This will frequently get you kill steals if you're not careful, so if there's a carry on your team be careful where you point this. ;) Because this is your heal ability, you'll want to pick this up first.
Spirit Bond [W] is your movement speed boost/built in Exhaust. If used on an enemy player, their champion will be slowed while any teammates gain a speed boost by running directly in the bond. Likewise, any enemy champion running in the bond is also slowed. When charged with Mantra, the movement speed effects are doubled. This is a great spell to use when you need to join a fight quickly or get back to a turret and all that's around you are minions. It's also a great escape mechanism.
Soul Shield [E] is absolutely delicious. This is the first ability I max out (closely followed by Heavenly Wave) simply because of how strong the shield is. When charged with Mantra, this ability deals damage to all surrounding enemies. Part of my early game mana problems come from shielding minions to take out a good chunk of enemy health. Later in the game, you can easily wipe out an entire minion wave using Mantra+ Soul Shield+ Heavenly Wave, making for some quick and effective farming.
Mantra [R] is what makes Karma so beastly. You never need to level this up, this works a lot like a buff. You can store up to 2 charges of Mantra, each charge empowers an ability. For example, Mantra+ Heavenly Wave gives you your AoE heal. Keep a close eye on how much Mantra you have and when your next charge is so you can best use your abilities.
Itemization: Covering Both Builds
Doran's Ring is generally a good starter item. A little bit of health, little bit of ability power, and a little bit of mana regen makes this item very valuable to start off with. It's not necessarily a bad idea to start off with Sapphire Crystal and a few mana potions either, though I prefer the boost to ability power right away. You'll generally be stronger for it since you won't be recalling too often.
Boots of Speed is usually my second item as Karma is pretty slow. This is interchangeable since Spirit Bond is a speed boost, but the second reason I pick this up is to build into Ionian Boots of Lucidity. If you feel the boots are wasted so early, feel free to pick up a Sapphire Crystal now and built your Catalyst the Protector or Glacial Shroud. However, once you have that I recommend buying your full build boots. The cooldown reduction is essential for mid to late game, no one wants a support that can't heal because all their abilities are on cooldown.
Catalyst the Protector is generally going to be your next item. However, if you're faced with a heavy AD team or feel the need to build a bit more defensively, Glacial Shroud will be more useful.
Sight Wards are handy, pick them up whenever you have the spare gold and drop them at key locations, such as Baron (later in the game), dargon (again, misspelled purposely), red/blue buff (mid to late game), and surrounding bushes to watch for ganks.
Now is about the time that you'll want to finish out either your Rod of Ages or your Frozen Heart. If you have enough gold to flat out buy Rod of Ages and your Glacial Shroud is enough for the time being, by all means go for it. Generally you'll find that you build a Rod of Ages first. I recommend building one or the other, or both before moving on to your next item. If you're having no problems holding out against the enemy team, you don't need to bother with building a Frozen Heart.
Abyssal Scepter is your next item. If you're still having some trouble with the enemy team, you're going to want to grab an Abyssal Scepter anyway. The aura will help you out as well as any mages on your team. Plus the ability power will make your abilities that much stronger, which is going to be very important as this is generally about the time the laning phase ends.
Rabadon's Deathcap should be your next item. This is a very expensive item, but the raw ability power really shows in team fights. This is where you want to be strong as you'll be in a lot of team fights at this point in the game.
Here is where it gets a little trickier. If you built a Frozen Heart earlier and are still having some trouble, this is where you'll want to pick up Banshee's Veil.
If you haven't had any problems at all, go ahead and build a Rylai's Crystal Scepter. Originally I thought the passive wouldn't work with Karma, but it should work fine with her Q. This is still mostly a troll item. The health boost and ability power make Karma very powerful and very tanky, which serves to just piss off the enemy team. If you don't want to go this route, go ahead and build yourself a Banshee's Veil just in case. :)
If you find yourself with an open item slot, go ahead and pick up a Void Staff for some more ability power and magic pen. Or troll a little harder and snag another Rabadon's Deathcap. These are both items I've picked up to fill an empty slot and generally it's in a game where we're on the winning side. The goal now is who can get the most kills before we manage to take out their Nexus. If your build winds up looking like the first build, you know you've had a good game.
Laning as Karma: Solo & Support
A lot of people underestimate Karma and her abilities. As a support champion, most people think she'll be weak and easy to take out. In reality, it's very hard to kill a skilled Karma player. Use this to your advantage in both solo and duo lanes. A little bit of low health baiting can get you kills, or your partner kills. Don't forget about Karma's passive, Inner Flame. At low health, a quick self cast Soul Shield charged with Mantra can easily kill the champion attacking you if they too are low on health. This is why it's perfect for the enemy team to consider you a weak little support champion and why it's so easy to bait them into thinking you're an easy kill.
Laning solo as Karma is not impossible to do. She can definitely hold her own against many mid champions. Most people will see Karma mid and think, "Ooo, the squishy little support thinks she can handle a lane on her own!" Well, she can. Her shield is very powerful and can easily get you kills within the first few minutes of the game.
If you're laning solo, I recommend you set your self-cast keybindings to something that suits you if you haven't already done so. The default keybinding is Alt+E for Soul Shield, which is what you'll be changing the binding for. Alt+E is generally too slow to use efficiently when things are moving quickly. I've set my keybinding to A, though you can choose any key that fits you.
The reason for setting keybindings for your shield is because it is easy to accidentally cast your shield on a minion instead of yourself. While this generally isn't a problem when you're laning with a partner, it can be life or death solo. It may take you some time to get used to your self cast key, so don't be surprised if you still die a few times while searching for the right key.
Now that you've got your self cast ready, you should be set to start solo laning. Be prepared to face heavy harassment from your opponent as they're probably expecting you to be weak, an easy kill. Early game you may be so play a little defensively. This will keep them thinking you're an easy kill so that when your arsenal is full at level 3, they won't expect the damage and you can probably take them out pretty easily. They should be a little overextended by then if you're staying close to your turret. Spirit Bond+ Mantra+ Soul Shield+ Heavenly Wave should slow them down and take out a nice chunk of their health. If it doesn't outright kill them, that's fine. Chances are they'll stick around and allow you to bait them into a clean kill by pretty much repeating the process.
If you're mid, don't forget to pick up wards! They'll help you avoid ganks from other lanes or junglers. This is a general rule for all people that lane mid, but I've seen it done so infrequently lately that I felt the need to mention it in this guide. Don't forget!
If you're laning with someone else, be sure you pick your partner wisely. Laning with an AD carry like Vayne or Xin Zhao is a great idea. While your minion farm should go to them, it's easy enough to counter that by building a Philosopher's Stone. It's alright to hang back a little and play the squishy support champion for a bit. This will help bait the enemy players into thinking you're an easy kill. With the damage from your abilities and your partner, you should be racking up assists as they take out the enemy.
Don't forget that you ARE support though. Chances are your baiting could end up with you sacrificing yourself so your partner can get the kills. I don't recommend doing this unless you know your partner well since a random partner may not know what you're doing. Be sure to communicate with your partner at all times as to what you're planning on doing, especially if it means you might die. Someone you've never played with before won't know your play style and may not even know Karma's abilities. The fact that everyone disregards and undervalues Karma is one of the things that makes her such a strong champion against enemies, but it's also a weakness in your team if you don't know who you're playing with. It's easier to play it safe if you're laning with someone you don't know than to bait and potentially give the enemy team free kills because your partner didn't realize what you were doing.
Be very careful against enemy champions with a silence or stun, such as Morgana or Taric. Your shield can absorb damage, but it won't get you out of a stun or a silence.
Mantra & When to Use It
I've mentioned in the abilities section that Karma can store up to 2 charges of Mantra. I've also gone over some of the ways you can use it to charge your abilities and some of the combos you can use to score kills and assists. Occasionally this will quickly take up two charges of Mantra, rendering you unable to heal (which is why Heal is a nice choice to pick up). However, there are times when you might want to use only one charge of Mantra. If there's an enemy mia, you may want to sit on that last charge until they appear again, just to be safe.
Karma's skills are very much multi-functional. Don't forget her damaging abilities, don't forget her healing abilities. If you're not using all the tricks she has to offer, you're not playing Karma to her fullest potential and if you're not careful, it could cost you the game. (On a side note, you just lost the game.)
Don't be afraid to snag to some kills as Karma if you can. I don't mean kill steal, I mean ensure a kill when a teammate is unable to. As I said before, a skilled Karma player is hard to kill. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. That being said, don't expect to become a skilled Karma player without misjudging and some bad luck. You will die as Karma, it happens to us all. You'll gain skill the more ballsy you are, just be smart about your aggressiveness.
Keep in mind that you're still playing a support champion. Most of the time you will be using your shield on other players, not yourself, so be sure to position yourself accordingly. Apart from that, while snagging those kills is nice, it is not actually your job to do so. If your carry is low on health, don't leave him and run off to ensure his kill. It's his job to take those risks to get kills and it's your job to keep him alive.
As I've mentioned, a lot of players don't understand Karma. If you're laning with someone who continuously puts themselves in a bad situation and you die trying to save them, don't be upset if they harass you for being a "noob" and an unskilled player. Request a lane change if you can, because what they need is someone who won't save their ***, but instead get their kills because they're too over-aggressive. They'll rack up deaths while another player will rack up kills.
Learn to recognize the most valuable players in your team; you'll want to keep them alive at all costs. You will have to make decisions on who to save and who you'll have to let die. If your Vayne is sitting at 10/1/2 by mid game, you'll probably want to keep her alive as opposed to the 2/5/10 Xin Zhao.
Above all, play smart. Familiarize yourself with all of Karma's abilities and learn to correctly judge situations before taking action. Know your limits and know your team's limits.
I took the liberty of taking screenshots of some of Karma's abilities in game. This was just a normal game I hopped in with some friends late one night. Enjoy!
This is pretty much what the cone area looks like for Heavenly Wave. Anything in this cone will be hit by the spell. Enemies will take damage and if charged with Mantra, teammates will be healed.
These are the blades from Heavenly Wave after you've released the ability. This screen shot was taken quickly after release, so you can't see the entire area affected as the blades are grouped up. Heavenly Wave will pretty much be your most used spell, as you can easily heal your entire team and take out an enemy all in one shot. Try to avoid kill stealing though, if you're solo queue your teammates might not like that.
Spirit Bond is pretty much your escape mechanism. The speed boost is nice for getting to fights, or away from them. Any enemy champion that walks through that line will take damage while any teammate that walks through it will receive a speed boost.
My absolute favorite spell as Karma, Soul Shield looks like this pretty much on cast. Actually, I think that shield was charged, in which case any enemies that might have been around us would've taken a good deal of damage. I have frequently charged this shield and used it on a teammate during team fights to hit multiple targets, closely followed with Mantra+ Heavenly Wave.
These are just a few clips from my normal games. I'm posting them mostly to show Karma's abilities in action, not to show off any supposed skillz, so please don't downrate or leave harsh comments because of this. These are just fun normal games.
Keep an Eye Out!
Not literally please.
But if you check back in the next few days, you may just see the following:
+Tips on farming and teamfights
+More screenshots of Karma gameplay
+Pure support Karma build
Credits & Luff <3
A lot of work is being put into this guide and a lot of said work couldn't be done without some help!
+Crystalize helped me out a lot by listening to me rant and rave and being the first to vote up my guide. <3 And as a side note, if you've ever wanted to try Akali, take a gander at his Akali guide.
+Making a Guide posted by jhoijhoi is a great resource for coding. I've worked with BBCoding for years, but a lot of stuff on this site is different than others, so this is an invaluable resource.
+The people who've commented have offered some great advice and raised good points, leading me to further the guide and build on it. Credit is definitely due. :)