Bard Build Guide by
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Not Updated For Current Season
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Hi, welcome to my guide. I'm Zelarith, and I haven't even bought Bard yet, so you might question the relevance of my guide. What I did though is spectating lot of players playing Bard. Mostly diamond players, but also your average silver Player. I've been up to Gold at best myself.
I'll probably keep this short, I won't even discuss itemization, but will only discuss why I wish to play Bard as a support jungler rather than just your average support.
By the way, this is my first guide so bear with me. This will probably be a full text kind of guide. My apologies for this.
NB : And I won't even be able to edit it : I didn't log in... It's just a bunch of ideas I would like to discuss anyway
Overview of Bard
Bard is an amazing character, he has the best utilities since Tresh.
With a pretty decent stun, and is AoE Zhonya, he could lock down a target for a while.
His heals packs allows him an in lane presence while he is actually away, and his portal is just the best at setting up ganks.
However, unlike Thresh, unless he is counting on his ennemies to follow him through a portal, he will need to be with the ganker squad to initiate good ganks.
Now, if you carefully look at Bard's kit, he has very low brute force, his passive helps a bit, he has one offensive skill and one heal, the rest is pure utility : the AoE Zhonya and the portal are only placement changers.
The result is that there is almost no chances for Bard and his adc to win their lane, as the other support will most likely outpower Bard.
That means that as soon as you take Bard, you will need more ganks at the bottom lane. Good thing you are great at setting up ganks. However, remember that you need to be near your jungler for you to be supper effective as a gank setter up.
From there on, this means you either need to -conveniently- leave your lane every time your jungler is up for you, or you need to be following your jungler most part of the time, wich is what I'm gonna try as soon as I get my hands on Bard.
Pros and cons of Bard support jungler
+ Super effective ganks every where you go
+ ADC get all the experience from his lane
+ Full use of your kit at maximum efficiency
+ Bard is safer to roam with his jungler, and the jungler is better protected
+ Better vision all around the map instead of a swarm of wards botlane
- Very low gold income, support items don't help much
- Low experience, you get a few from chime though
- ADC is alone on botlane
- Tax on jungler experience
Getting the best out of Bard's kit
Yup, that's what I said, so let's zoom in on that.
As I said earlier, I watched quite a few Diamond players try Bard, and I noticedhow freaking hard it is to actually use his ultimate : unlike most of the ultimates, you can completely failing it doesn't mean missing your target and going into CD, failing your ultimate might sometimes just pronounce a death sentence on an ally. Depending on the timing and the difference between the targeted units and the actual affected units, your ultimate has, let's say, on average, around 60% chances of being usefull, 10% chances of completely failing and 30% chances of having a negative effect.
But you are not an average Bard player, you are about to lead a gank, what you need first is to get in position, to do so, you will use your portal, but even when using a portal, you need a bit of time to get to your target. That's when your ultimate kicks in, buying enough time for your jungler and yourself to get to the lane.
Your target will most likely be the enemy laner, not your laner, but your laner will probably bait a bit, getting himself into risk.
So, best case scenario, you get only the enemy, all your team will get into a better position and have the upper hand.
Average case scenario, you get the enemy and your ally. Your ally won't be able to change position, but you will make sure the enemy dies, and will try whatever you can to save your ally.
Worst case scenario, you only get your ally, or you completely miss your ultimate. If you missed your ally, changes are he didn't want -didn't need- a Zhonya effect and will be just fine on his own, so the enemy won't get a kill, and you might still be able to get him. You loose the effect of surprise though.
As for the other two spells in Bard's kit, it's kind of obvious how usefull they are when roaming. Leaving healing shrines for allies and using CCs on enemy doesn't feel like requiring further explainations...
As for your passive... Extra damage, slowing abilities... You already know how to use it to gank even harder, but there is yet another way we can use it that we will see in the next chapter.
Managing your weaknesses
Let's see how we can patch those weaknesses
As you can't get gold from minions around you dying, you don't get much gold from any ancient coin or from your masteries.
Spellthief? Let's see, you do get all the golds you can out of it when you gank, but it's a mere +15/+30 gold per gank. This item is better suited for laners, as it charges way too fast to play it as a roamer.
On the other hand, you might just get the best out of a relic shield : you heal whoever you are taxing the lane with and share the money, you will only hinder him a bit on the experience side. And it's slow enough at charging for you to get from one lane to another before it has fully replenished.
On the utility side, I don't really think you need the extra speed movement of a talisman, you should get to the lane quite fast, without letting the time for anyone but really high mobility chars like Shaco or Leblanc to escape.
Frozen Queen's may barely come in handy, it's real use would be to escape bad situations rather than catching up with someone as portals already do just that.
Now, some desperate people would rather try to take somebody to the grave with them in a 3v1 situation, that person might be the squishy Bard, or someone else low on defensive measure. Then kicks in your face of the mountain to potect the guy. And you turn a 1 kill 1 death gank into a real score for your team.
Some people may complain that you don't get the executioner effect of the relic shield as you are not a mele champion, hopefully, your passive also kicks in here, and allow you an extra damage to ensure you can finish off those minions. But you might need to make your intentions clear to the laner, or else they will just outpower you and finish them off first. Who said playing Bard as a jungler support didn't require good communication with your team? Certainly not me.
So, instead of taxing the jungler, you tax only a bit of the experience of laners here and there, you get a decent (but still lower than usual) gold income, almost normal experience thanks to your chimes, you heal and gank every lane, giving the upper hand to everyone.
Everyone you said? What about the poor ADC sitting all alone botlane?
Not to be played with any ADC
Certainly, your ADC will struggle a bit, he will need to play safer than usual, missing many CS early. Actually, not any ADC can handle this task.
An ideal ADC should be able to farm from a far and have an escape.
I would recommand Caitlin, Jinx, Lucian or maybe Ezreal.
But although it will be really hard early and might require a higher presence of the jungler and yourself, assuming your ganks bot are successful, and as your ADC will get all the experience from the lane, at some point, the pressure of a duo lane vs solo lane will meet the pressure of being underleveled combined with the pressure of a two man gank.
However, this really is this playstyle biggest weakness and your enemies will probably try everything they can to take advantage of it. Certainly, this playstyle is clearly not meant to be used with any ADC. Kalista is clearly a no go.
Speaking of no goes...
This is completely unrelated to the playstyle suggested in this guide, but I have seen way too much negative moves in Diamond summoners playing Bard for not shouting at these no go :
1/ Don't try to randomly save someone with your ultimate.
80% of the time, it fails, simply because the main threat will be the faster moving character, and his speed will allow him to avoid your skillshot. Sometimes, I even witnessed it making the enemy team's life easier catching their prey.
I would dare say there are only 2 cases where I would see fit to use it as a life saver : to save someone from Zed's ultimate, or if back ups are clearly coming for this ally and can save him if he gets Zhoniad.
2/ Making a run for it? Don't use your portal !
How many times have I seen Bards trying to escape through their portals... This is useless, your ennemies can also go through the portal. More than useless, I will assume that you were in a battle with an ally (as you shouldn't try 1v1 with Bard), and that ally made it out alive. You can't imagine the countless times I witnessed a Bard getting a mate of his killed by granting the enemy team a portal to catch up with him. I do know that you should be able to stun one of your followers at the other end of your portal, but you might as well get killed before going through the portal, or have your stun unavailable if you do't keep good track of your mana / CD
3 cases where I would actually use a portal to runaway :
Portal to my tower at low level
Portal to a trap prepared in advance (either deadly trap like a bunch of Shaco boxes early game or simple booby trap of Caitlin).
Portal toward allies when I'm absolutely sure that these allies are ready to fight and can take on those who are after me.
So, there you go, that's how I think you would get the better out of Bard.
Might be wrong, might not be, I don't know, I didn't try it yet !
But if you have tried or want to try this playstyle, please, let me know how it went in the comments.
See you in the fields of justice !