AP Bard Mid
Hi! I’m Aqua Dragon. I ended Season 4 at Master 1 with AD Jungle Malzahar, among others, and am also the co-creator of www.bestbans.com !
This build is part of a series of guides that is given a playstyle and then optimizes it. The guide does not give an opinion on whether the build is good/strong/viable/competitive, nor whether the playstyle is the optimal way to play a champion. Other guides will provide why you should play a champion that way, but this one will not.
The guide only answers: regardless of strength, if you are playing X, how should you do it?
This guide was brought to you by ThisCornerOfTheEarth.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive guide. It is meant to outline the basic principle, items, runes, and playstyle of AP Bard Mid. As such, I won't be delving into why certain customization choices were made. However, my hope is that I will have explained AP Bard Mid enough that my rationale will be a self-evident extension, and to also allow you to make personal customizations as well.
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Pros and Cons
- Potent lane bully during the early game
- Excellent utility support during mid game
- Transitions into a teamfighting AOE AP Carry late game
- Provides useful support even when behind
- Mid lane provides plenty of opportunity to roam for ult plays
- No significant mana issues
- Low escape potential to ganks early game
- Burst begins to fall off into the late game
- Need 65 chimes to reach AP Carry status
- Difficult to balance farming waves and grabbing chimes
- AP Carry power frontloaded in Meeps; once out, damage is out.
- Limited cooldown reduction options in the build path
What is AP Bard Mid?
Bardly Even Trying
AP Bard Mid has been the most difficult build to optimize yet. It's an extremely powerful lane bully with the base damage from Meeps which incentives early game power. However, the late game AP Carry power requires 65 chimes to fully access, which favors late game itemization. Meanwhile, Mid-game sits in an awkward spot between wanting to amplify burst, but not at the expense of either the early or late game, which encourages utility itemization. AP Bard wants early-game items, utility items, and scaling items. These tend to be mutually exclusive.
Additionally, Meeps really generate the bulk of the damage, which makes autoattack-reliant items feel mediocre. Once the Meeps run out, the damage runs out as well, regardless of how much attack speed there is or how many on-hits have been made. Additionally, the Meep's base is excellent early on but doesn't scale as fast as defenses, which makes AP Bard Mid an underwhelming assassin/burst-mage.
Even of those late game choices, AP Bard has pretty mediocre AP damage scaling, with a total of 0.95 between Cosmic Binding and the Meeps. This makes building raw AP feel bad as it doesn't significantly contribute to damage, and means spell penetration is most needed.
Given all this, we ask again: What is AP Bard Mid?
AP Bard Mid is all three! A powerful lane bully that transitions into a hybrid AP-Support (Lulu, Karma) that transitions into a full blown AOE AP Carry with devastating Meep power! By focusing on a gradual transition, AP Bard is able to fulfill three different purposes during the course of a game, granting them a powerful presence at all stages.
To achieve all three purposes, AP Bard favors items that fulfill all three niches, progressively transitioning between all three with smartly-spaced item purchase. These allow relevancy all game, no matter the circumstance, and help bring out AP Bard's strengths precisely when they're needed (like a wizard).
In the early game, AP Bard isn't just a powerful lane bully, but is also an excellent roamer. From mid, Tempered Fate almost feels global, and allows for some powerful saves during the late laning phase.
Into mid-game, their burst is also not to be underestimated. While it does start to fall off into late game, it remains very potent around this time even with a transition into utility-AP items, and is even more potent when combined with the assistance of teammates who are usually nearby in the teamfight-oriented mid-game phase.
Finally, their late-game AP Carry potential is scary to witness. At 65 meeps, every autoattack unleashes a devastating AOE that can easily hit opponents, with each auto doing over 400 damage to every enemy in a huge AOE, slowing them all for at least 45%, three times in a row! Once the Meeps run out, AP Bard's damage does too, but their utility remains, providing the usual love that Support Bard can give, but with more powerful healing.
Time to Chime
AP Bard does not have significant mana issues, and Doran's Blade provides more damage than Doran's Ring because of Bard's underwhelming AP ratios.
Early - Continue by getting
Mobility is extremely potent for more powerful lane bullying. Protobelt also has a useful bullying component, and then helps transition into a burstier midgame as the utility items begin to ramp up.
Mid - Continue by getting
Abyssal continues the trend of progressively going from utility to straight power. If you're up against a composition that lacks magical damage, you may wish to skip Abyssal Scepter entirely. AP Bard benefits significantly more from magic penetration than raw AP, and Liandry's burn is applied by the Meeps, multiplied by x2 innately due to the Meep's inherent slow.
Late - Continue by getting
Then Choose One
This is roughly around the time that 65 chimes are acquired, and from here it's raw teamfighting AP. These are the three items that provide the best gold/damage ratio. Always get Void Staff before Rabadons, even if ahead, because of its superior value.
Stage of the Game
In the early game, your goals are to
- Bully like mad!
- Roam aggressively, especially into Level 6
- Collect chimes between waves, roams, and recalls
- Set up heals near the tower
Be sure to set up Caretaker Shrines near your turret. These will help heal up after each bully engagement, allowing for even more harassment.
When getting low on mana, consider looking for chimes. Chimes will restore a sizable chunk of mana, making them a worthwhile investment even if you have to leave the wave momentarily.
Try to find the best spots to use Magical Journey to speed up chime collection. The movement speed quints help for roaming, harassment, and collecting, but proper portal usage is really what sets the tempo of the pickups.
At level 6, roam often. Magical Journey and Tempered Fate are a potent near-global presence from the mid lane, and that power must be taken advantage of.
As the laning phase winds down, you will transition into a utility/burst role
- Begin itemization into hybrid utility/AP
- Use sizable burst alongside Cosmic Binding for good picks
- Assist teammates with Bard's inherent utility
The burst damage has not fallen off yet. With a few Meeps available, it becomes possible to do some incredibly damage to squishier targets; abuse this to set up picks with pink wards!
Stick with the team if you can. The damage can only get so far, and it's necessary to rely mostly on teammates for more of the sustained damage.
Don't forget to collect chimes. The goal is to hit 65 chimes, which sets in motion the true nightmare.
You got 65 chimes right? That number is important.
- At 65 chimes, the AOE of each meep drastically increases
- Unleash the Meeps on clumped up enemies, like the hunter you are
- After the Meep barrage ends, assist with strong heals
Consider sitting near the back until shortly after the fight has begun. This will be when enemies are most likely to be standing near each other. The attack speed marks will help throw out this damage a little faster than usual as well.
Once the Meeps run out, you're spent. But you're not out of the fight; begin using each spell to assist the team with their own difficulties. While the burst is nowhere near as amazing as it was earlier, Cosmic Binding can still deal some decent damage and help peel off carries from teammates.
Continue collecting chimes when you can. Note though that they are largely just a bonus at this point; the 65 chime mark is what really sets AP Bard into a monster, and everything beyond that just turns into a bonus.
If the game goes on long enough, and you chose to make Abyssal this game, consider selling the Protobelt for Luden's Echo.
This guide was a lot of fun to write, and I hope you all have learned everything you would have liked. If you have any questions, leave a comment or drop a line over at twitch.tv/aquadragon33 ! And be sure to check out www.bestbans.com !
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