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Karma Build Guide by Marceloqa

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.


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League of Legends Build Guide Author Marceloqa

New AP Karma - (Updated for Rework)

Marceloqa Last updated on April 1, 2013
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Ability Sequence

1
4
5
7
10
Ability Key Q
3
14
15
17
18
Ability Key W
2
8
9
12
13
Ability Key E
6
11
16
Ability Key R





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.



Masteries

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1/
Executioner
 
 

Offense: 21

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Honor Guard
 
 

Defense: 9

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pickpocket
Intelligence
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nimble
 
 

Utility: 0


Guide Top

Introduction - AP Carry Karma

Why play AP Karma Mid?

Like other ranged mages, Karma greatly benifits from CDR and Ability Power. She has good sustained damage, and provides great utility to her team.

Unlike many other champions, her ultimate, Mantra, is available at level 1 and can be used to enhance the rest of her abilities. With Soulflare, she can effectively bully enemies at level 1, and cast it later for great burst damage. Her Focused Resolve gives her a good damage over time ability that roots her target, and can also heal as Renewal. Her Inspire provides a great shield and a huge movement speed modifier, that she can apply to her whole team as Defiance.

She has the tools to make a teamfight absolutely unfair for the enemy team and, if not focused, can dish out a TON OF DAMAGE. In that sense, she resembles Orianna, Morgana, Lux and Zyra: a mage that brings utility to her team, as well as damage, not excelling in single target burst or assassinating important targets.

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Table of Contents

Building

Skills

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Items

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Playing

Matchups


Guide Top

Pros/Cons

Pros/Cons

Pros
Cons
  • Her rework made her alot better as a champion;
  • Great Farmer and Pusher;
  • Can farm from far away with Inner Flame;
  • Still is a very strong bully in lane;
  • Even greater healing than before with Focused Resolve;
  • Huge Shield with Inspire;
  • Great mobility and chasing potential;
  • Works really well with high damage bruisers;
  • Can be played as Support If someone else goes Mid;
  • Has recently been reworked, everyone wants to play her;
  • Smaller Shield;
  • Not innately tanky;
  • Depends alot on cooldowns;
  • Needs AP and CDR to be effective;
  • Needs some protection and cooperation from her teammates;
  • Doesn't have a gap closer/escape;
  • Has no hard CC (her slow and root can't stop channeling abilities like Death Lotus)


Guide Top

Summoner Spells

Summoner Spells



Flash is a standart spell on Karma, like most of the other champions. It gives her a gap closer that can be used as an escape/reposition or to secure kills/surprise enemies.
For your second summoner spell, go with Ignite, so you can secure kills and cripple champions that are very resiliant because they can recover health, like Swain, Akali and Sion.


Guide Top

Runes

Runes

Like most AP Mids, Greater Quintessence of Ability Power, gives you some flat AP which helps you win trades early, gives you a bigger shield/heal, etc. Karma is a really strong poker in the early game and, being the AP carry, you want more damage: you get Greater Mark of Magic Penetration. As seals, I recommend Greater Seal of Armor. They will reduce the damage you receive from autoattacks and minions and help you survive ganks. As glyphs, take Greater Glyph of Magic Resist, since you will be facing mostly magic damage oponnents. If you think you don't need the magic resist, or if your facing an AD Caster, you can take Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power, for some much needed AP.


Guide Top

Masteries

Masteries

For Karma I run 21-9-0 Masteries, taking the standard offensive masteries for AP mids. Since we're taking Ignite, we will also benefit from Summoner's Wrath
I prefer this over 21-0-9 because I don't find Karma to be mana-hungry, so I take defensive masteries to round out my build. The extra health from Veteran's Scars and Durability makes you alot sturdier in the early game, making your laning phase stronger.


Guide Top

Gameplay

Skill Set

Passive
Gathering Fire helps Karma in teamfights by lowering the cooldown on her ultimate, Mantra, by 1 second each time Karma damages an enemy with her abilities, and 0,5 seconds for Karma's basic attacks.
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Q
Inner Flame is a great AOE burst spell that also slows enemies when it hits. This spell will only explode if it hits minions or enemy champions. It's Mantra empowered version, Soulflare deals bonus damage and leaves an impact zone if it hits an enemy or at the end of it's range that slows your enemies by 50%. After a while, it will erupt, dealing additional damage to enemies in that area.
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W
Focused Resolve creates a tether between Karma and one of her enemies, including neutral-buffs, champions and minions, that deals magic damage over 2 seconds and roots the target if the link is not broken. This tether provides vision of the target. With Mantra bonus, it deals bonus magic damage and heals Karma over the duration. This is a great damage and utility spell later, but you won't be maxing this first, so it's more usefull for the root so you can land your Soulflare easier.
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E
Inspire is a ally targeted shield (also works on minions) that shields them and gives them a brief movement speed increase. You could use it's Mantra version, Defiance, on a minion to harass your oponnents, but you won't be maxing this, so it won't deal that much damage. You should use it in lane to mitigate damage and win trades. Enemies near the shielded ally are damaged, and allied champions around the shielded target gain half the amount of shield, and also receive the extra movement speed. That makes this spell very usefull in saving teammates, helping your team initiate and catch up to fleeing enemies.
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R
Karma's ultimate is Mantra. Once activated, it will enpowered her next ability causing it to have an added effect. This ultimate is why Karma has so much potential damage/utility, but you only have one charge, on a moderately short cooldown. That cooldown makes proccing your Gathering Fire passive and using your Mantra wisely essencial to be a great Karma player. See the "Playing with Karma" section for more information on her Mantra empowered abilities.


Guide Top

Skill Order

Skill Order

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#1
#2
#3
#4
Previously, Karma she would only level her 3 basic abilities, being able to max them with 6 points in each of them and not levelling her ultimate. The new Karma uses her skill points normally, like most of the other champions: you can level your ultimate at level 6, 11 and 16, and then you have 3 other basic abilities to level. Akwardly, at level 18, Karma actually has 19 ranks in her abilities. This is because her ultimate starts with 1 point at level 1 (just something I wanted to point out).

At level 1 you should start with your Inner Flame. If you have played the old Karma, you always leveled up your shield first for the AWESOME Mantra + Soul Shield combo on a minion, and you can still do it, because you still have ur ultimate at level 1. However, you wont' be maxing your Inspire this time, since it only deals damage if you use it with Mantra, which is on a high cooldown and only has 1 charge. Level your Inner Flame instead. Use it to zone and poke your enemies safely from level 1. Put a level on Inspire at level 2 and level Focused Resolve next.

You should always level your ultimate, Mantra, as soon as possible (at level 6, 11 and 16). Leveling it up makes the Mantra version of each of your abilities stronger. For example, if you level your Inner Flame, it's Mantra version will remain unaltered. In the laning phase, use your Mantra charges wisely so you don't get caught off-guard, but feel free to use them to harass your oponnent, since Mantra has no mana cost.

Focused Resolve is also a good source of damage, and very reliable against targats without escapes/ low mobility, since you can root them and keep chasing them with the speed from your Inspire, making your other spells easier to hit.

After maxing Inner Flame, you can choose between Focused Resolve and Inspire depending on the situation. If you're against a Teemo, for example, you might want to level Inspire first so you can chase/escape him, and to mitigate some damage from Noxious Trap. You should also max Inspire first if you're against a very agressive assassin, like Fizz or Akali, and just want to have a safe laning phase and outfarm your oponnent.

Against a Twisted Fate, for example, you can just dodge his cards, let him waste his Pick A Card, and then try to kill him when he is the most vulnerable. In that case, you will prefer having Focused Resolve for the added damage.

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Guide Top

Itemization (Under Testing)

Core Items




Start the game with a Faerie Charm, sight ward and a mixture of potions. Start by building a Chalice of Harmony for the mana regen so you can poke your enemies more often and stay in lane longer. Try to buy Boots of Speed as soon as possible. After those items, try to get enough money for a Fiendish Codex and try to rush your most important item, Athene's Unholy Grail. All of it's stats benefit Karma greatly.
If you had a rough laning phase, buy a kage's lucky pick for the passive gold income and build it into a Morellonomicon, replacing the Athene's Unholy Grail in your build, or Twin Shadows, so you can be a little bit safer, specially if your oponnents are fed.
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Then, try building your core items. Rabadon's Deathcap is a great item for AP carrys, and Karma is no exception. After you finish these items, the next item you build will be based on your situation.
For boots, Sorcerer's Shoes are the best choice, since Karma isn't as reliable on cooldowns as she used to. You could still go with Ionian Boots of Lucidity if your building items that don't provide CDR already. Pair those with Enchantment: Alacrity, for the movemement speed, or Enchantment: Homeguard if you are being pushed to your base and need to clear minion waves to defend it. You can also go with Enchantment: Furor, if you find it more effective than Enchantment: Alacrity.

Optional Items







After getting our core items, we move into pick the 5th/6th item which you must choose based on the game situation.
  • An Abyssal Scepter is generally a good choice, and if you like it, you could defenitly go with it. The ability power and magic resist help, and the magic resist reducing passive is great as well, but usually I don't find myself needing any more magic resist after buying Athene's Unholy Grail, and I rarely buy this item because I seem to find better options to round out my build.
  • A Zhonya's Hourglass is a good option because of the powerful stasis active, the armor and the 120 AP. It's a very good choice mid-late game, when the AD carrys start doing tremendous amounts of damage, or they start focusing you.
    Its particularly good on Karma, because it's active can be used when you're on low health or being focused, so you can survive a little longer, wait for your cooldowns, and maybe even heal yourself back up with Renewal and escape with your life. It's also a good purchase if you need some armor.
  • Another good option is Liandry's Torment. Although it provides low stats, it's passive is really strong, specially for spell spammers like Karma. Like the last item, it's a very strong late game item, since your enemies will often have alot of health. It's also useful for slaying Baron easier/faster.
  • Seraph's Embrace is only viable if you purchased a Tear of the Goddess in the early game, replacing the Chalice of Harmony. You will end up with a more glasscannon-like build. However, when you fully farm it, you get a nice shield active and a ton of AP. If you build this item, you will be lacking CDR, so try getting it from other items.
  • If your enemies are stacking MR, or you just feel that you need some more damage late game, you could get Void Staff. This item is alot better now with the Karma rework, because it helps her damage late game.
  • A Guardian Angel is a great item to get for late game. The death timer's are huge at that point, so getting killed can easily cost you the game. The armor and magic resist this item provides are good, but it's Revive effect is what really makes it a strong item. As Karma, when you come back to life, you can help your teammates stay alive longer and (hopefully) turn the teamfight in your favour.
  • I find myself buying Will of the Ancients often, because I find it really usefull when you're ahead and you need to keep constant pressure in their base. Since Karma's only form of sustain is an enemy-champion targeted tether, the spellvamp really helps her staying in the lanes, instead of going to base to heal up. I only buy it after my core items, and when I dont need to get armor or magic resist when an enemy is becoming really strong.


Guide Top

Playing with Karma

Laning

When Riot decided to rework Karma, they created a style of gameplay that focuses on managing your Mantra carefully and wisely, and proccing your passive, Gathering Fire. The main differences are the longer range on her abilities, lower cooldowns and that she doesn't stack Mantra.

Thankfully, one of her main strenghts was maintained: her laning. She is still a great laner, mainly because of her ability to zone and poke her ennemies safely with Inner Flame, while still having some sustain in a 1vs1 situation with Renewal.

[Harassing] Karma should go for trades in the early game when she reaches level 3, when she was all of her abilities. Shield yourself with Inspire while attempting to dodge any skillshots to mitigate damage, then use your Focused Resolve to heal you up and deal some damage, and chase them to maintain the tether.
If you manage to root them, shoot your Mantra-powered Q, Soulflare and you should be able to win the trade. Try to autoattack whenever you can to maximize your damage with Gathering Fire.

Spoiler: Click to view

[Last-Hitting] Farming with Karma is essencial for success and tremendously easy, thanks to her AOE abilities. Until you're level 3, you should focus mostly on farming. Always try to out-CS your enemy. Your Inner Flames are your most usefull toll for keeping your lane pushed and making your enemy miss out on some creeps.
[Using your Mantra Resource] Your Mantra is by default on a 45 second cooldown, when it used to be at a 30/25/20 seconds cooldown before Karma was updated. Besides that, now you only have one Mantra charge at a time, when you used to have 2. However, you will notice your Karma empowered moves are extremely strong. It's very clear what Riot intented: use your Mantra for TONS OF DAMAGE (or other purposes), but use it wisely.
  • Your Mantra Empowered Q, Soulflare, deals alot of damage and and is best used when you have a clear shot at your enemies. It's specially usefull in 1vs1 situations in the laning phase, since you will be maxing it first and it will be dealing the most damage. Since you have no escapes, you should use its slow effect to get away from sticky situations.
    If you max both Inner Flame and Mantra, its Max Single Target Magic Damage (if your enemies are hit by both the initial blast and the following explosion) is 785 (+150% AP)
  • Your Mantra Empowered W, Renewal, is very useful in duels, and should be used for it's healing mostly. It's like a mini-Fiddlestick Drain that deals less damage, but you can move while your channeling this ability and it roots your target if the link isn't broken. This allows for some interesting plays. For example, in a gank situation, you can root the enemy jungler under your turret while hitting your spells, possibly killing him or at least forcing him to base.
  • Your Mantra Empowered E, Defiance, is your second option when it comes to teamfights. If you have an pseudo-initiatior like Akali, Diana or Jax that can jump to the middle of the enemy team fast, cast E on them for some great AOE Damage and shielding them. You should use it right when the teamfight starts to haste your allies with the movement speed buff and mitigate some enemie damage, since allies around the shielded target get half the shield ammount.
Soulflare and Defiance are both good choices if used properly. It all depends on what you need. You want more damage, and have an opportunity to hit many enemys with your burst spell, along with it's massive slow? Go with Soulflare. You want a strong initiation, aid a high damage bruiser and hopefully take controlf of the fight right away?? Defiance is your choice.


Guide Top

Team Fighting

Karma, like most AP Mids, is squishy, and thus requires good positioning in teamfights. As a carry, you should be away from scary enemies that can catch/CC-lock/kill you very fast, trowing your Inner Flames to damage targets from afar, while the slows prevents them from catching you. Always try to maximize your damage, instead of trying to finish off low health enemies while the rest of the team is running for you. If you play correctly, your sheer ammount of utility and damage will give your team a huge advantage in teamfights.

[Innitiating] You should only initiate if you are able to catch an enemy out of position. Root him with Focused Resolve and let your team jump in. Keep spamming your Inner Flame throughout the teamfight, and use its Mantra version, Soulflare, if you think you will manage to catch out of position one of their carries.

[Teamfight] As the teamfight begins, you should be in a good position. That way you can stay away from danger and remain a danger to your enemies. Karma performs best in a teamfight if she is able to survive (ofcourse). Don't expose yourself to danger just to finish off the enemy Ezreal, for example.

Try to autoattac to proc your Gathering Fire passive and continuously cast your spells. Your massive CC and damage from Soulflare and Focused Resolve will all work to keep you and your most valuable teammates safe, while dealing alot of damage. Remenber to use your item actives, as well as your Summoner's Spells for repositioning and damage.

[Catching Fleeing Enemies] You are winning the teamfight, and the remaining enemies are trying to run away from you. Thankfully, Karma is a great chaser. If one of your allies is closer to the target or has more CC, help them by casting Inspire or even Defiance for the movement speed buff. This is what you should be doing most of the time, and you shouldn't ever forget to use it. You can also use your slow from Inner Flame and the root from Focused Resolve to lock-down your enemies.


Guide Top

Laning Matchups (Under Construction)

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Akali is a very scary assassin, mainly because she can easily snowball the game out of controll and is very hard to stop if she isn't braindead. Againt her, you will want to bully her heavily in the early levels. Unless ur going for a creep kill, keep autoattacking her and hitting your Soulflare. Always call when she leaves the lane.
Once she gets her ultimate, Shadow Dance, you need to be really careful. Keep trying to poke her from afar, and if she engages, shield yourself with Inspire, try to root her (even if in Twilight Shroud), try to damage her with Soulflare, and then retreat. You should always buy wards, because you don't want to give Akali the slightest advantage, and a succesfull gank will hurt you alot against her.
If you don't make too many mistakes, you might even get some kills and win your lane, since Karma's kit helps her alot against Akali.
However, if Akali manages to get a couple of kills, you need to ward your lane and warn your teammates everytime she goes missing, and play extremely carefully, since Akali has one, if not the highest snowball potential of all champions. In teamfights and in ganks, it is very useful to have one Vision Ward to counter her Twilight Shroud.
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Going against Diana is much like going against a Fizz. The main difference is that she only gets her gap-closer, Lunar Rush, at level 6, and until then you are in the driver's steat. As always, poke with Soulflare and in this matchup I'd rank Inspire second so you don't get any nasty surprises. A succesfull gank against you could really set you back, and potentially give her the control in the lane, so make sure to buy Sight Wards. If she engages you,, your super slow from Soulflare and the movement speed from Inspire will let you escape her, inspite of Moonfall and Lunar Rush, and let you win the trade.
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Fizz is a high damage assassin, known for his huge snowball potential and easeness to escape ganks. For this reason, much like in Akali's matchup, you must avoid making errors to win this matchup, and exploit his own errors. However, his early game is pretty weak, and thankfully for us Karma is a great lane bully. You should always autoattack him (don't forget to farm every minion possible) and try to hit your Soulflare to zone him away from his minions. In this matchup, I recommend maxing Inspire second, because giving kills to Fizz isn't healthy, and he has alot of burst damage, specially if he gets you with Chum the Waters.
The key is knowing when his Playful / Trickster is off cooldown, and using your skills wisely. If Fizz initiattes on you,, try to immediatly shield yourself with Inspire and start running away. As soon as he uses Playful / Trickster, cast your Focused Resolve and chase him for the root, following with a powerful Soulflare to win the trade.

Never panic into using your Focused Resolve before Playful / Trickster, since it will negate your root and leave you defenseless, and not help at all in landing your Soulflare.
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Ryze is a abilty-spamming mage, with no gap-closers/escapes, relying on his Rune Prison to catch up to enemies, since his ablities have very short ranges. This is an easy matchup, but you need to play it patiently. Don't be too agressive, and continuosly poke down Ryze with Focused Resolve. Ryze will engage with his Rune Prision, and then spam his abilities standing still. This makes it extremely easy for you to land a full damage Soulflare, while casting your Inspire and Focused Resolve to deal and mitigate damage.
He is an easy matchup for you because you can easily kite him and chase him, and you can poke him. This makes for a very easy lane of which you have the control.
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