Karma Build Guide by Nanners
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Not Updated For Current Season
get this one last
Not Updated For Current Season
Who is Karma?
Before her recent rework in late March, Karma was a mediocre support who (go figure) shined the most in the Middle and Top lanes of the game. She was considered un-viable by many and at times one of the most, if not the most under played champion in the game each week. With her recent rework, however, she is now considered to be a much stronger champion and more or less viable to be played as a support champion or (more uncommon) middle and top laner.
What is this guide?
With the reworking of Karma and the retirement of Egypsian_Lover's brilliant Karma guide (and lack of an equal replacement), I decided to try and write my own AP Karma guide.
My guide here outlines what I have found to be the most powerful AP Mid and Top builds for Karma. I will be discussing when and where to use each items and what sort of role Karma falls into.
I hope this guide helps you to play Karma well and that you enjoy reading it! Constructive feedback is always appreciated! Please don't down vote without telling me why. It would be much appreciated.
Pros / Cons
- Good Damage
- Strong Laner.
- Great Sustain and hard to kill.
- Difficult to gank/strong ganks.
- Good crowd control.
- Level one ultimate with Mantra
- Team fighter.
- Three ultimates to choose from!
- Scales well throughout the game(providing you at least farm.)
- Soulflare is one of the most powerful bursts in the game.
- One of the most unique champions in the game!
- Skill shots.
- Ultimate can be wasted easily.
- No "real" passive.
- Easy to predict .
- Has a higher learning curve than most champions.
- Have to think quickly when choosing an ultimate.
The Role of Karma & Her Builds
When you are playing Karma you are either the AP carry in mid lane or you are a somewhat tankier AP Mage in top lane. Or a support. Either of the roles will provide your team with a deadly and tanky/sustainable AP caster or a unique support with lots of utility.
AP Mid Karma
You are always the AP carry in (big surprise) mid lane when you are following the 'AP Mid' build. The build I have provided promotes a strong early game with decent survivability and damage. As you finish your items and move on into later portions of the game this build will help you to transition while remaning strong and very useful to your team. Nobody expects a bursty Karma.
AP Top Karma
Top lane is a little different than mid lane when concerning what items you should build. I used to only play Karma top lane when I had an AD assassin mid so that I could just go full APC top lane. But I have also found that going down the road of an tanky AP utility mage can also work very well for you even if you have an AP carry mid already. This build makes you much tankier than your mid counterpart- and very difficult to kill. This build also brings a bit more utility to your team at the expense of a lot of damage.
Top lane is my favorite place to play Karma right now because of the comments you get from the enemy team, "OMG our top lost to a squishy AP!" or from you own team, "Holy sh*t our Karma is actually good!!!"
With all of the changes Riot made to supports and vision, I think that Karma is now a viable support. Talisman of Ascension and Locket of the Iron Solari work exceptionally well with her kit and a lot of people don't even realize it. she brings a ton of utility to the team and if paired with Sivir can essentially allow your team to have THREE AOE speed boosts, which no other team comp can bring on the same scale or effectiveness.
Make sure to start with either Ancient Coin (probably the stronger choice) or Spellthief's Edge for the gold income so that she won't fall behind later in the game.
Utility is your strongest weapon as support Karma, and if your team need to know what they are doing in order to make the best of it.
Regardless of which role you play (or build you use) you should never be in the front lines of a team fight. Solo top Karma can definitely take more hits than AP carry Karma but she is still a bit squishy. You should always be closer to the back and off to the side constantly firing Inner Flames into the enemy team and attempting to catch the enemy carries with your Focused Resolve.
I cannot re-iterate this enough- do NOT be afraid to use your ultimate! Especially during late game. Even if you choose not to use one of the more offensive options you should till be dealing so much constant damage that you can have your cooldown gone in under ten seconds.
Also because of Karma's supporting capabilities you should easily be able to switch between carry and support roles as your team sees fit with Inner Flame/ Soulflare and Inspire/ Defiance.
Explanation of Runes
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration
Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
Personally, I don't think runes make that much of a difference. I've had many opportunities where I have accidently taken my ADC page with my APC and vice versa and still had a successful game.
The runes I have listed above are what I believe is the optimum combination for Karma. Magic penetration, mana regeneration, ability power, and movement speed are what Karma needs the most. Most people probably have a generic AP-friendly page that they use on all of their ap mid champions. If you have one of those it will more than likely be fine for Karma. But I would still recommend my combination of runes over any other.
Here is an explanation of why I take what I take:
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: These runes ensure that Karma's spells hurt. Also they help you cut through any magic resistance the enemy team may have. I feel these runes should be standard for any AP carry though.
Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration: The only thing worse than dying that can happen to you as Karma is running out of mana. These runes, along with your grail, and blue buff, give Karma the mana she needs to to stay useful throughout the game. The reason I take scaling over flat runes is because after level seven they only further compliment Karma's ability to stay in lane for a long time and even apply pressure to other lanes.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power: It's ability power. The thing that makes all AP carries useful. Other than it makes all of Karma's abilities more powerful, they serve no other purpose. I don't think I need to say more on this.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: I used to never take these runes at all. But then I started using them on my junglers and loved them. Then I tried them on my supports, and then eventually my AP carries. However, I think the extra movement speed really compliments Karma's need to keep up with her opponent. the movement speed is also good for outrunning your opponent in rough situations.
I feel that Athene's Unholy Grail provides ample magic resistance for Karma and that is why I do not take any runes for that.
AP Top- While your role in top lane is slightly different, the concept for runes is the same. You still the need mana regeneration, you obviously still need ap, you are definitely still going to be chasing your opponent with movement speed, and the magic penetration will always be useful against tanky opponents.
If you need help with your runes, there is a guide for that (it has been archived, but still an informative read.) here
Explanation of Masteries
Take 21 points in the offensive tree making sure you take all of the APC oriented masteries (You really don't need any AD for Karma.) This page will probably be very similar to a page for any other APC as it is pretty much a standard APC page. As for the remaining nine points I HIGHLY recommend you put them into the Utility tree, as the extra mana regeneration and buff duration can really come in handy with Karma.
You can also place the remaining nine points into defense if that fits your play style better, but I really think Karma benefits more from the utility route I have displayed above.
You can hover your mouse over the little mastery icons above to review each one if you need to.nuggets
Top Lane Masteries
The only differences between these masteries and the ones that I have list for AP Mid are that I put the remaining nine points into the defensive tree instead of the utility tree.
The main reason for this is because as the top laner we will almost never receive blue buff as it normally goes to your mid. Or your jungler may keep it for themselves. As a result, Runic Affinity is useless.
Also as a top laner you are generally going to be versing tankier opponents than you would be mid lane. So I feel that Karma benefits more from the extra tankiness than she does from the utility.
Finally, the majority of your top lane opponents are going to be melee. Making the bonus movement speed from Wanderer not a huge requirement. You also do not have the privilege to wander between all lanes when you are top.nuggets
Ever since Karma received her major re-work I have been playing her pretty religiously. However, since then, she has received many buffs and small tweaks here and there. It is because of this that I feel she hasn't had a stable kit in a long time. But I now feel that she is sitting a great place and hopefully will not be suspect to any more changes. I have played many, many games with her since her last tweaks and I feel the build I have made below is the optimum build for her at this time.
With this build Karma is able to play very aggressively as she should be, allowing her to to do tons of damage while constantly melting the cooldown on her ultimate into nothing. At the same time this build allows for her to remain very deceptively hard to kill, just as a true Karma should be. :)
|space||These boots are the optimum choice for pretty much any AP caster. The magic penetration offers more hurt with each spell cast. Along with Liandry's Torment, our runes and masteries, it brings us roughly to 40 magic penetration. One of the nice things about Karma is that no matter how much magic resistance your opponents build, her heal will always be for the full amount.|
|space||Even with the changes they made to this item in season three it is still my favorite AP carry item in the whole game. I build it on literally almost everyone including Karma. Not only does it basically give her a free blue buff, it gives her some much needed cooldown reduction for her ultimate and other skills. This item is an all around great compliment to her aggressive play style because of all the mana regeneration it gives you too. Also with a Rabadon's Deathcap, you gain a bonus 18 ability power form this item.|
|space||This item is hands down essential for every single AP caster, with a few rare exceptions. Karma is not one of these exceptions. It gives you a whopping 120 (gives itself a bonus of) ability power and increases every last one of your sources of AP by 30%. Get this item.|
|space|| Karma's Q ability is her most spammable skill of all. Not only is it AOE, but it will hit and slow everyone within a small radius regardless of whether you used Inner Flame or Soulflare. The passive on this item doubles it's effect when the afflicted target(s) are movement impaired. It also doubles with the root from her Focused Resolve/ Renewal. The magic penetration makes her spells hurt more, the health makes her tankier and the 50 ability power (gains an additional 15 with the deathcap) just makes her stronger. Overall, Karma can make very good use of this item.
I usually don't take this item when I play Karma top lane because Will of the Ancients provides us with enough survivability to stay in lane. It can be useful against opponents who have a LOT of health, but I find that you can whittle them down pretty easily without this. If you find that your opponent is stacking high amounts of magic resistance you could always build an early Void Staff too.
|space||This item is pretty much the ultimate defense for any AP caster because of it's active. Being un-targetable can and will save your life! It is also useful in those situations where you have one or two seconds left on Renrwal. Just pop the active, and then completely turn the tables on your opponent as your health comes pouring back. It also gives you 50 armor to make you tankier and another 120 whopping ability power (and a bonus 36 with a deathcap.)|
|space||The reason I put this at the end of Karma's build is because I feel the burst it provides simply isn't all the great until you have a lot of ability power. But once you have it your auto attacks will reduce the cooldown on your ultimate and punish your opponent at the same time. Now whenever you use Inspire to engage an opponent you have a buffed auto attack to throw at them in addition to the rest of Karma's burst. You also get 80 ability power (with a deathcap bonus of 24), and a 5% speed buff that Karma can definitely use to engage and disengage as needed.|
|space||This item can be useful when you're laning against incredibly bursty champions such as Veigar or LeBlanc. It is also useful when laning against melee champions such as Diana. But the reason I did not include this in my main build is because Karma is ranged and should never be within 600 range (the range of abyysal's passive) of an enemy for very long. When Karma gets into close range it should be on her terms, not her enemy's.|
|space||This item is a very close contender to being included my main AP Mid build. The heal from the AOE on Karma's Inner Flame and Soulflare will heal her for a decent amount of HP. When combined with Renewal the amount of HP she will recover is ridiculous. But the reason I did not include it in the main build is because Karma already has a good heal and you should be playing aggressively enough to have your Renewal when you need it and not taking a ton of damage as a result. I will have champion matchups listed below that say when you should take this item mid.
When playing top lane, this items is essential to any build as it provides her with so much sustain on top of what she already has.
|space||A close cousin of Athene's Unholy Grail. The only differences are that it provides more ability power and useful passive at the expense of far less mana regeneration. The only times I take this item over Athene's is when I am laning against a high sustain champion such as Vladimir or Master Yi. It's also useful when the enemy team is stacking tons of HP. In the more uncommon situation where I take this item and Athene's is when Karma simply needs to be able to do constant amounts of damage (At the expense of damage.) At 40% cooldown reduction Mantra is almost consistently up.|
|space||The tenacity from these boots can really make Karma's day when laning against high CC opponents such as Veigar or Lissandra. Otherwise I generally take Sorcerer's Shoes and switch to these during late game only if the enemy team has an obnoxious amount of crowd control.|
|space||When you're completely dominating or losing your lane, you may find it beneficial to roam. When in matchups such as LeBlanc where Karma struggles, you should definitely attempt to gank other lanes because LeBlanc simply can't push very well. This is where Boots of Mobility come in. They allow for you to quickly zip your way around around the map with Inspire and constantly keep pressure on other lanes. If you choose to build these, however, be prepared to trade up to Sorcerer's Shoes or Mercury's Treads later on in the game.|
|space||I only recommend taking this item as a situation choice when you are playing Karma top lane, and that your opponent is AP such as Ryze or Malphite. It's a great all around survivability item for Karma but taking this will leave one less slot for damage. Because we are building a Will of the Ancients, each spell she casts will heal for nice amount of health. But combined with our spell vamp and Renewal, Karma will heal for amounts even more ridiculous than with just the spell vamp. The cooldown reduction and magic resistance will also help us out a lot.|
|space||Again this is a more defensive item for when you are playing Karma in top lane. Normally I only build this item if my opponent is AD and is hitting me really hard.. If my opponent is someone with a hard gap closer such as Jax or Vi and/or my team is lacking tanky champions I may also consider building this. This item sacrifices a lot of damage in return for survivability. You receive a lot of armor, cooldown reduction, and a great passive for those auto-attacks to remove your Mantra cooldown. You may also use the passive for easily engaging another champion or disengaging.|
|space||The bonus 15 movement speed can be great for Karma. As I've stated numerous times throughout the guide, Karma needs movement speed.|
|space||This is a great enchantment that really helps out your team and allows them to push faster. In addition to helping push, you can use it to help feeling allies get away combined with Inspire.|
|space||25% (or 75 seconds) off of your Flash can be very useful. But because we don't take the Summoner's Insight mastery it may not be worth it to some. But reducing the cooldown to 225 seconds can still be very useful when a Varus or Morgana throws down their ult.|
|space||This a a great enchantment, but it seems as if it's the most popular one and I do not understand why. By the time you have ran to the first towers outside of your base it is pretty much worn off. Being in a situation where this would be useful generally means that your team isn't doing too well. We also are not taking Teleport and thus Teleport/ Homeguard ganks aren't going to be a thing with Karma. However, combined with Inspire/ Defiance can make a very fast Karma that may be able to turn an in-base teamfight around.|
Explanation of Abilities and Sequence
Karma's passive is Gathering Fire. Every spell or auto attack that hits an enemy champion reduces her ultimate's cooldown by two seconds and one second respectively. This was meant to reward an aggressive Karma and allows her to have her ult back in a matter of seconds if mastered. With her low cooldowns and over time damage you can shave around 10-15 seconds off with each exchange against your enemy laner. It is possible to completely remove the cooldown once or even twice in team fights for three ultimates in one fight! Though it takes much practice and good positioning to make the most of this as Karma.
Karma fires a ball of energy that detonates on hitting an enemy, dealing magic damage and slowing surrounding enemies by 25% for 1.5 seconds.
Mantra Bonus - Soulflare: Deals additional magic damage and leaves a circle of flame at the impact area (or upon reaching maximum range), heavily slowing all enemies inside the circle by 50%. After a brief delay the circle erupts, dealing heavy magic damage to all enemies in the area.
Cost: 50 / 55 / 60 / 65 / 70 mana
Cooldown: 7 / 6.5 / 6 / 5.5 / 5 (with 0% cooldown reduction)
Magic Damage: 80 / 125 / 170 / 215 / 260 (scales at 60% AP)
Bonus Magic Damage(Soul flare): 25 / 75 / 125 / 175 (+30% AP)
Detonation Damage: 50 / 150 / 250 / 350 (+60% AP)
This is by far Karma's most powerful skill in terms of damage. At level 18, with the full build, and providing that you land both portions of this skill. Soulflare can deal approzimately 1466 magic damage to everyone on the enemy team. You can almost completely melt the enemy carries with this ability. If positioned properly, it cam be a game changer in team fights. Not to mention hitting all enemies with both parts will shave 20 seconds off of your ultimate's cooldown, meaning there will be almost no cooldown left at all. :)
Links Karma to target enemy champion, revealing them and dealing magic damage over 2 seconds at approximately half second intervals. If the link is not broken, the enemy is rooted.
Mantra Bonus - Renewal: Focused Resolve deals bonus magic damage over time and heals Karma instantly for 20% (+1% per 100 AP) of her missing health and another 20% (+1% per 100 AP) of her missing health if the tether is not broken.
Cost: 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 / 110 mana
Cooldown: 16 / 15.5 / 15 / 14.5 / 14
Magic Damage: 60 / 110 / 160 / 210 / 260 (+60% AP)
Bonus Magic damage with Renewal: 75 / 150 / 225 / 300 (+60% AP)
Root Duration: 1 / 1.25 / 1.5 / 1.75 / 2
This is your personal lifesaver and the main reason Karma is so difficult to be ganked and easy to gank for.
One of the reasons Karma was so appealing to me was because originally, as she lost HP she gained more AP and thus became very difficult to kill. Now with the re-worked Karma, your opponent goes in and attempts to kill you. But what's this? You've suddenly healed a decent chunk of health and your opponent just wasted their combo. Not only will they be rooted afterwards and free to deal damage to, but you have more than likely just left the exchange with more health than when you started it with. Remember- The bonus stacks on top of the original damage when you use your Mantra and deals more damage than most people realize.
You may also use this skill along with Inspire to engage, disengage, or even save a teammate.
This skill will take about 8-10 seconds off of your ultimate if the tether is not broken because Gathering Fire does not consider the damage-over-time to be one single spell.
When being ganked and you are at about half health or less, throwing your ult down onto Renewal followed by an Inner Flame will not only heal you, but snare one of your enemies in place. You will most likely survive the gank.
*This is a NOT a channeled ability and cannot be interrupted by silence or stun or any form of cc. The only way to break the tether is to outrun Karma.*
Karma shields target ally for 4 seconds and grants the target bonus movement speed for 1.25 seconds.
Mantra Bonus - Defiance: Grants allied champions and herself within 700 range of the target half the shield value and 60% bonus movement speed for 1.5 seconds and damaging enemies within 600 range magic damage.
Cost: 60 / 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 mana
Shield: 80 / 120 / 160 / 200 / 240 (+50% AP)
Movement Speed: 40% / 45% / 50% / 55% / 60%
Magic Damage: 60 / 140 / 220 / 300 (+60% AP)
I feel that this is Karma's weakest ability, but definitely a good one. While it doesn't do much in terms of damage or resetting the cooldown on her ultimate, it can save your team in a pinch.
Personally I mainly use this skill (and the ultimate portion) for helping myself and my allies get around the map quicker, or to engage/disengage an enemy. It is also useful for shrugging off AOE ults such as Gangplank's Cannon Barrage.
Karma empowers her next ability cast within the next 8 seconds, adding an additional effect. Empowered abilities use the same cooldown as their basic form.
Karma begins each game with one rank in Mantra and can increase it at levels 6, 11, and 16 as any other ultimate.
Note: Each of Karma's ultimates are listed under their respective skill rather than underneath her ultimate. However, rather than ranking up with each skill they only rank up with her ultimate. So remember to rank up her ultimate whenever you can!
*The ability sequence for top lane is slightly different! See the cheat sheet near the top.*
As with any carry you generally take Ignite to finish off that last little bit of your opponents health. After you've rooted your opponent and slapped them in the face with a Soulflare now would be a good time to ignite to ensure the kill. Ignite is also good for opponents with lots of sustain such as Vladimir or Master Yi or generally any ad assassin you may find yourself against.
When all else fails, you still have Flash. Even the champions with the greatest escape potential don't always make it out. This where Flash comes in. You've used Inspire on yourself, snared your opponent with Focused Resolve/ Renewal, and even threw an Inner Flame down, but they're still right there next to you. This is a perfect opportunity to flash with Karma.
Flash is also good for initiating as Karma to ensure that Focused Resolve/ Renewal doesn't break after Inspire has worn off. You may also use it to finish an opponent off with a well aimed Inner Flame.
Karma needs mana just as most other AP carries do. But when we're building Athene's Unholy Grail and should be receiving blue buff on a regular basis, we simply do not need the extra mana. While Karma has the potential to spam her spells she simply will not need the extra mana. I also feel that this spell falls off later on in the game.
If you find yourself running out of mana often then you either playing too aggressively or are not building the proper items.
You are not the support and really do not need Heal. Additionally, Karma already has a heal in the form of Renewal. Taking heal is just taking up a space for something that Karma already has. Any champion who uses heal also takes reduced healing afterwards for 35 seconds, which has the potential to weaken your Renewal.
Karma already has a slow, a snare, and a personal speed boost that fulfills the purpose of Exhaust. Generally most AP carries do not rely on their auto attacks and therefore makes this spell partially useless. Only take it if you feel you can get the damage off without Ignite.
Has a slightly shorter cooldown than Flash and allows you to run faster and through units. While this could be useful for Karma, the long cooldown and potential failure doesn't make it worth taking on Karma. She has a speed buff in the form of Inspire and that has a much shorter cooldown. I feel that Inspire alone fulfills Karma's need for speed.
Useful for if you find yourself getting bullied out of lane a lot, or simply want to get ahead of your opponent, but because of Karma's great sustain I feel that taking this spell defeats the purpose of being able to stay in lane for a long time. Just spam your Inspire to get around the map quickly.
I think that taking Teleport on some AP mids such as Diana or Lux can be a great choice as they both have decent crowd control and can do a lot of damage quickly to turn team fights around. While Karma has great burst potential with Soulflare, teleporting in will almost never give you the proper positioning for it to be worthwhile.
Karma should not be the designated jungler, and smiting minions isn't exactly last hitting. Don't take this.
Great if you're playing in Dominion and nobody else on your team has it, but otherwise don't take it. I mainly play Karma in classic, personally. (But she can be fun in dominion.)
Again, this spell can be useful in Dominion. Considering the size of the map in classic, and the cooldown on this spell, it's pretty much useless on Karma. Renewal should keep you from dying anyways.
Mainly for auto attack focused champions. Karma gets most of her damage out in one or two spells and is also difficult to gank. Meaning that taking this spell is not a good idea.
Karma already has a shield and I do not think that she needs two. If you took Barrier you would need to time the timers on both shield to ensure that one does not go to waste, as a Karma with a lot of ability power can shield for a lot. The spells listed above are simply better choices.
You are not the support, and you should be warding both sides of mid lane anyways. Even on the off chance that you get caught when your wards go down, Karma still has an easy time getting away to safety.
Smart Casting with Karma and Other Game Changes
In the gist of it, smart-casting saves seconds. Karma is someone who can make use of smart-casting.
I mainly use it on her Inspire/ Defiance as the fast response shield and speed boost could save your own, or a teammate's life (or even end an enemy's.) Ever had a moment where you were just a second too late to save a someone? Or maybe an enemy just barely out ran you? Smart-casting may make that happen much less frequently. :) I promise you that once you get used to this you with NEVER want to go back to the default settings.
Changes in the "Interface" MenuThese changes will give you MUCH more room on your screen in order to see what is going on in your immediate viewing area as well as making it easier to keep track of Jungle timers by being able to see Timestamps
Changes in the "HotKeys Menu" MenuThis is what will make the biggest difference in your game play and this is what will take you a couple games to get good at. For those of you that know nothing about Smart Casting you can learn more HERE. Please note that "MB3" in this picture is the center click on your mouse. This of course is achieved by pressing down on the scroll wheel. space
Farming! is your best friend during the laning phase of each game. Being at a lower ELO I come across my fair share of opponents who focus more and shooting their spells at me (and missing) than last hitting their minions. Before they begin to realize what's going on, we're ten minutes into the game and I have 100-ish cs to their 50. While both of us have 0 kills. I basically have won my lane.
Because of Karma's great pushing potential and sustain, it is possible for her to win her lane without a single kill, death, or assist. If you notice that your teammates are struggling in another lane, tell your jungler that you will be okay and to focus on ganking the other lanes instead. Unless of course you find yourself struggling as well.
Depending on who your laning opponent is, you may be able to slip away with your jungler and even help with those ganks and get back in time to keep the wave off of your tower.
A well farmed Karma is a very dangerous Karma.
Remember, Karma is a great duelist. Because of her heal she can come out of almsot any exchange with less health lost than her opponent. However, don't get too confident and do not try to 1v2, or 1v3, yet.
Inner Flame: Other than throwing an occasional one of these to get last hits and harass my opponent I don't really start poking until level four when I have put a second point into this. The reason for this is because for only five more mana, you increase the damage by 45.
- This is your primary source of poke
- Becomes Soulflare, your strongest nuke, when you use your ultimate on it.
- Use it to allow your jungler to catch up
- When it hits a target it deals damage to everyone around it. Sometimes aiming for the minions instead of your enemy will catch them off guard as they will not expect to take damage. If your opponent is melee such as Diana or Fizz, they will find that hiding in their minions is simply too close.
After you've initiated your opponent, this skill comes next to ensure that they don't get away until you're done with them. Not only does it deal a decent amount of damage, but if you find yourself taking a lot of damage, adding a Mantra to it will heal you as well.
- Becomes Renewal with Mantra.
- This is Karma's heal, it only works on herself.
- Using Inspire can often help to keep you just within the tether range so your opponent cannot get away but also cannot get to you.
- Renewal makes Karma deceptively hard to kill at low health.
We mainly use the shield from this ability to absorb damage when we first engage our enemy. We will use the speed buff to either catch up to them and make sure they get snared in place or to run away.
- Becomes Defiance with Mantra
- Can help both you and your jungler get away when ganks go wrong.
- Throw it on your jungler if you are already securing the tether so they can quickly hop into the fight.
- When you're ahead, you can cast it on minions to throw off your opponents last hitting.
- May also cast it on minions to help keep them alive and hold the lane.
In those games where your jungler does gank for you, intiate with your Inspire + Focused Resolve combo to allow your jungler to join into the fight and then quickly follow up with a Soulflare and Ignite. Your opponent should be dead. If not, push your lane hard and get the tower, or proceed to help other lanes.
In the event that you are ganked, simply use Karma's ganking combo in reverse order and instead of using your Mantra on Soulflare, use it to get Renewal instead.
When you're pinned against your tower and it has begun to attack your farm remember these rules:
- Melee Minions: Two turret hits + One auto attack- let the turret hit the minion two times, and then auto attack once for the kill.
- Caster Minions: One turret attack, + Two auto attacks- hit the minion, then let the turret hit the minion, and then auto attack it again for the kill.
- Follow the focus of your own minions and learn the timing for your auto attack animations to ensure the most minion kills.
General Laning Notes:
- Farm over fighting
- Melee minions are worth more than caster minions, prioritize these when you are unable to kill both.
- Siege minions are worth the most, but only spawn every three waves.
- Do not push your lane into the enemy tower when someone is unaccounted for.
- If your jungler isn't giving blue buff, ask them for it! Chances are they will give it to you.
- You should have tier one boots, Chalice of Harmony, a Needlessly Large Rod, and two Sight Wards before early game is over.
Mid game usually starts around 15 to 30 minutes in my experience. Unless one or both teams are really bad. Regardless of the situation, you should either already have their tower, or be so well farmed that you can constantly push your lane and really put the pressure on your opponents turret. Remember to keep an eye out for ganks, that can come from more than just the jungler at this point.
Once mid tower has been taken, I usually prefer to go help bot lane get theirs so that way all four of us may proceed to help top as well. The only exception to this is if top already has their tower, or are really close and it would simply be more beneficial to take it really fast and then head bottom.
In the event that you lose your mid turret first, make sure you are constantly keeping track of your opponent while attempting to push the lane all the way to their tower. If you notice your opponent has gone bottom or top, it is your (not your jungler's) job to make sure you follow them so that another tower is not taken. Karma is naturally a team fighter so simply joining your teammates could change the course of the game in another lane.
By the time mid game has ended you should be able to finish your Athene's Unholy Grail, Liandry's Torment, as well have added a Rabadon's Deathcap to your arsenal.
Mid Game Notes:
- Once you have your tower it is still your job to ward the bushes on each side of mid.
- If you were unable to during laning, I recommend that you ward the little circle bushes (see warding guide below), rather the bushes that are immediately next to mid.
- Keep farming, and don't be afraid to farm other lanes at this point
- You should be able to help yourself to blue buff at this point.
- If you manage to find success bot lane, now would be a good time for you to help grab Dragon
- Always make sure that your mid tower isn't taken while in other lanes.
- Spam your Inspire to move around the map quickly.
End game is about team fighting, destroying any remaining any towers, and winning the game. I think that Karma falls off a little bit into late game. While chances are you will no longer be dueling any of your enemies, Karma becomes the definition of a cannon in team fights, because of her passive.
As a carry it is your job to stand in the back of team fights, as the enemy carries will likely be doing. Because of this, Karma's Inner Flame/ Soulflare will never make it beyond the line of tanks. This is why I believe Karma should not only be in the back, but off to the side as well to ensure her nukes completely devastate their carries and possibly make them flee.
Karma's positioning in team fights (As you can see I'm a great artist.):
This is a teamfight taking place in the middle of middle lane.
Remember, hitting as many champions as possible with your Inner Flame/ Soulflare, keeping the tether from Focused Resolve/ Renewal, and constantly auto attacking will make the cooldown on your ultimate virtually non-existent. Allowing for Karma to constantly nuke the enemy team with Soulflare and restore almost her entire HP bar with Renewal. If your team finds themselves caught, throw down a Defiance to help absorb damage and allow everyone to reposition.
Karma always needs to be with her team once late game has began. If you need to recall or grab blue buff for whatever reason, let your team know. Baron Nashor is always good to get only if the entire enemy team is accounted for and not in a position to contest it. If they're all dead, you should using Karma's great pushing abilities to push lanes and grab towers, or even the Nexus.
The ideal to grab Baron Nashor is after your team can no longer push, more than three of your teammates are alive, and the enemy team has not completely re-spawned.
- You should have your everything up to your Zhonya's Hourglass completed by now (make sure you have purchased tier three boots as well.)
- Placing Inspire on your tank/initiator will help them engage the enemy team.
- Purchasing a Sight Ward or two will help keep sight all over the map.
- Don't be afraid to use your ultimate at this point (even for farming/pushing!) The cooldown should only be around 22 seconds or so and you can quickly shave the whole cooldown off.
- Towers are more important than kills or buffs.
... for your enemy if you're not warding and they are. ;D
- You can watch for incoming ganks.
- Easier to see which lane your opponent is roaming to.
- Enemy jungler may move into your jungle to counter jungle.
- The middle of the map just tends to be a high traffic area.
Below is a basic guide for what I believe is the best warding layout for mid.
- The dark green dots are the most viable spots to ward, if you can do it without being caught.
- The yellow spots are situational spots. They reveal less of the river, but provide more warning when enemy jungler is coming to gank. It may be better to ward here when you are being camped.
- The orange spots are the worst places to ward mind in my opinion. You have little warning for ganks and most of the sight is on mid, which you can already see. Also good map awareness will tell you when the jungler is in those bushes and when they leave.
Sometimes I've encountered games where my opponent will purchase Vision Wards to attempt to keep my wards out. But because there are so many places around mid that you can ward I feel that buying a Vision Ward is just a waste of money.
There is a great guide on warding that can be found here.
Mid Lane Champion Matchups
Below are lane match ups that I have actually encountered while playing Karma and how I Feel they should be dealt with best. Each set of recommended items are for how to counter the champion specifically. So keep in mind that with each match up you encounter the build may be subject to change depending on the composition of the enemy team.
Morgana can easily shut you down because of her anti-chase nature and her Black Shield. But the reason I did not list this as hard is because it requires a lot of quick thinking and timing on her part.
In the beginning just do your best to out farm her and prevent her from pushing the lane into your tower, as some Morgs like to do (she only needs rank three on Tormented Soil to take out your entire wave). Once you've went back once you can try to see if you can out-burst her. I usually like to engage immediately after she uses her W so that I only have to worry about dodging her Dark Binding.
Besides that the only other thing you really have to worry about (unless you're low) is her Black Shield. If she times it correctly she can remove a huge chunk of your damage or completely negate you Focused Resolve/snare. Sometimes I find that using Inspire and then running at her will cause her to waste her E. All you have to do at this point is either be ready to dodge her Q and then fight, or back off and engage her again from a better position.
Try to remain a bully all throughout the laning phase and keep her CS low. Even in Morgana doesn't get fed, she can farm very well and be very devastating late game. Your Q out-ranges her W, and vice-versa, but your skills are on a much lower cooldown than her's and it's simply a matter of dodging and fighting back.
Notes for laning against Morgana:
- If she builds a Rylai's Crystal Scepter, get Mercury's Treads instead.
- Baiting her into thinking you're going to fight is the key to avoiding her Black Shield.
- CALL YOU MIAs. Her ultimate can completely change a fight.
- Morgana has great sustain because of her passive, don't let her health regenerate too much.
- If your jungler is giving you every blue buff, you may consider Morellonomicon over Athene's Unholy Grail to keep her sustain down. But only if you know you won't need the mana.
- Put an extra point or two into Inspire if you need help dodging her skills or simply keeping up with her.
Karma outclasses Orianna in damage and lane sustain, but Orianna outclasses us in pretty much everything else including range and cooldowns. Which is why I think that taking Boots of Swiftness against her is the best choice. She will try to punish you with her ball and she will use Command: Attack and Command: Dissonance to keep you away. As Karma you will need to be able to dodge the ball as much as possible and you will need to be able to run. Fast.
Don't try to fight her early game, even if she uses her skills to farm. Her cooldowns are low enough that even if you get a full combo off she will still smack you a few times with Command: Attack and possibly even a Command: Dissonance. There is really no safe way to fight her early game without a gank because her zone and harass play style simply counters Karma's chase and harass play style.
Poke her with Inner Flame when you can and use Renewal to heal off any damage you may take while trying to farm. If you feel that you can effectively predict Orianna's moves then it is possible that you can trick her into using Command: Shockwave with your Boots of Swiftness and Inspire.
Also beware of her Clockwork Windup. If she manages to slow you with a Command: Dissonance she will most likely move in and pick up a few stacks with her auto attacks. Which can cause a lot of damage even with Inspire.
Notes for laning against Orianna:
- IF you find yourself taking a lot of damage from her Q, rank Focused Resolve/ Renewal over Inner Flame/ Soulflare.
- Having lots of movement speed and being unpredictable is the best way to play against her.
- Try not to stand in the middle of your minions as you may not be able to escape her Command: Attack / Command: Dissonance command.
- Command: Protect does cause some damage if it hits you on the way back to Orianna.
To begin, yes I do have seven items listed above. This is because I have experienced different playstyles when laning against Zed amd depending on how your Zed plays you may either want to build Liandry's Torment if you're completely dominating him or Will of the Ancients if you find yourself taking a lot of damage. It is up to you to decide how your lane is going.
Because Zed doesn't have a blink in the same way that Talon does, I find that this lane goes a lot easier than when laning against Talon. Zed also cannot silence you, so this means you only need to rely on dodging his abilities and predicting where he will go. If you can do this, all you have to do it poke him down and you can pretty much win the lane.
As with pretty much every other melee champion we lane a gainst we will be using our Focused Resolve/ Soulflare combo most of the time. So rank up your Q and then your W as normal. With an extra early point in Inspire if you feel that you need the extra speed buff to dodge. If you find yourself taking a lot of damage then rank up Focused Resolved first and just focus on keeping your health high.
Most Zeds will try to jump on you and do a lot of damage before you can react and then blink away again. If your opponent is smart than they will stop doing this after you punish them with our E-W-R-Q combo. Once he backs off all you need to do is poke him and punish him when he attempts to farm his minions.
If you cannot beat him, at least you will be able to out-farm him.
Notes for laning against Zed:
- The lower your health, the more damage Zed can do. If you have under half health an your ultimate is down, he can easily dive and kill you.
- Boots of Swiftness can be used if you are having trouble dodging him.
- When his ultimate goes up (where he and his shadows dive you) BACK OFF. The more damage he does will cause the delayed portion to do way more damage.
- Don't stand in your minions as it can be difficult to dodge his skill shots and his shadows.
Top Lane Champion Matchups
Below are lane match ups that I have actually encountered while playing Karma and how I feel they should be dealt with best. Each set of recommended items are for how to counter the champion specifically. So keep in mind that with each match up you encounter the build may be subject to change depending on the composition of the enemy team.
This match up is only for what is known as "Critplank", as that is the only one I have seen while playing Karma.
Normally I would say this is an easy lane because Gangplank is a melee champion. But because of his Parrrley's range the lane doesn't quite work out that way. It's on a much lower cooldown than any of your abilities and the damage trade and frequency is not in your favor at early ranks. Your best course of action is to farm and then rush a Hextech Revolver along with some early armor such as Ninja Tabi or a Seeker's Armguard and of course Catalyst the Protector. You're going to need a lot of lane sustain to keep up with him.
While you are farming and trying to remain in lane, the best course of action to dealing with Gangplank is to try and remain at max range of Inner Flame and ensure that kiting him with it is the only way that you deal damage to him. If you find yourself caught fighting him, feel free to throw down a Renewal along with a few auto attacks before Parrley comes off of cooldown again.
Once you have gone back once or twice you can use our standard E+W+R+Q combo and demolish most of his health in exchange for one Parrrley which will pretty much be negated by your shield and sustain. Remember that you out-range his Q with everything and learning that range can be crucial to bullying him back completely. Always stay out of it when you can and poke as often as possible.
Notes for laning against Gangplank:
- Parrrley can wipe all of your health in minutes if not careful early game.
- Getting Ninja Tabi early can help negate his damage.
- Also consider grabbing a Sheen/ Lich Bane early as it can help you trade more damage with him.
- Finishing an early Hextech Revolver will really help you shake of any damage from Parrrley.
- I don't recommend Morellonomicon simply because his sustain is far inferior to yours.
- If you rank up your Inspire first, you can use it to bait him into using his Parrrley on you over a minion and lose out on the gold. Simply stand in your minions
- As I said above, don't underestimate how much gold he can earn by farming with his Parrrley.
This is actually a really easy lane in my experiences. Garen doesn't have much of an escape mechanism when dealing with you and he also has difficulty catching up to you. This is a really good example for when movement quints come in handy.
Make sure you always auto attack when you can so that his passive is virtually never up. Otherwise he will need to back up and miss out on last hitting. It's your job to be a really big bully in this lane. Deny him cs as much as possible while constantly whittling his health away.
The only thing you have to be wary of is ganks. Once Garen hits six, a gank will be really all he needs. If they can remove most of your health he just needs to use Demancian Justice and you're either dead or ignited. This is also why using renewal in this lane is useful. In a clutch moment 20% of your missing HP plus 20% more can save you from his ultimate.
Notes for laning against Garen:
- Don't get caught in melee range as he can really do a lot of damage if he knows what he is doing.
- If the enemy jungler is camping you then you may want to grab Mercury's Treads to get his silence off faster as well as any other cc the jungler may bring.
- Garen has a lot of sustain and tankiness, but constant harassment will slowly but surely bring his health down.
- Will of the Ancients in place of Athene's is also a good pick against Garen if you're having any sustain issues against him..
Laning against an AD top lane Master Yi is easy if you can avoid Alpha Strike. This is primarily because he has to rely on his auto attacks to do damage, which means having to get very close to Karma, which means death. Another nice thing to note is that while Master Yi has Meditate still, it is nowhere near as potent as it used to be.
We should still be attempting to dodge his Alpha Strike while laning simply because a lot/all of Master Yis will be using it to engage you and hack away at your health. However when he does manage to engage you, simply throw down your W, and use your Imspire to back away and then proceed to throw Inner Flames into his face as we always do.
Depending on how your lane ends up going, I would recommend leveling up your Q and W equally until you either feel you can kill him or that you simply need the sustain to stay in lane. Either way he will still take lots of damage. Because of Karma's anti-melee nature you should do rather well in this lane.
Notes for laning against AD Master Yi:
- Be ware of his Double Strike as it does significant damage to you.
- Also watch out for Wuju Style as it deals true damage.
- Keep Master Yi away from you as much as possible. If he cannot get to you then he cannot do any damage at all.
Singed is very tanky from the beginning and will take more effort to kill than other top laners. However Karma happens to stand for pretty much everything singed can't lane against. You have a slow, a snare, a heal for when his poison adds up, and a nice speed boost that will pretty much always keep you safe for when he attempts to Fling you.
If you can manage to stay out of his poison trails most of the time than you can rank up Inner Flame over Focused Resolve. But if you find you are taking a lot of damage than rank Focused Resolve first as usual. You may also consider putting an extra early point into Inspire if you find that the extra 5% movement speed helps you. But you should be keeping enough distance in between the two of you.
Remember you primary focus is farming as always. But try to poke him down with your Inner Flame when you can and use the snare from you Focused Resolve to stop him from engaging or to follow up with a Soulflare. He has a lot of health and resistances so you need to whittle away at his health as often as you can.
If you can, try to not push the lane because once the minion wave gets under his tower he can use his Poison Trail to quickly pick all of the minions under his tower. While he is under his tower you are in a vulnerable spot for Fling.
Notes for laning against Singed:
- Use your Inspire whenever he lands his Mega Adhesive
- If you find yourself getting caught a lot get Boots of Swiftness instead, and trade them as soon as laning phase ends.
- His poison lingers for about 3.25 seconds, don't run into the area until it disappears.
- Mega Adhesive is a good indicator that he's going to engage you.
- Do not ever let him get close enough to Fling you. There is no reason to ever get that close.
- When his little backpack thing start to have a green spout means that he has activated Insanity Potion
- Keep Spirit Visage in mind as an alternative item.
- Beware of proxy farming! I have a section about in the 'Early Game' section.
Every time that I have played this lane it has turned into a matter of taking his hp down, proc'ing his passive, and then taking hp down once more. A lot of Zac's damage requires him to be right in your face and as I've said before, is not somewhere you want to be when you're against Karma.
Always make sure you're farming and poke Zac as often as you can, but don't overextend your lane. If he attempts to fight you he won't be able to get away- use your ult whenever you can! His passive will allow him heal regularly and keep his HP high, which is why you need to keep poking him (even if it's just auto-attacks) so that his HP is always on the decline.
The only thing you really have to worry about is if your HP gets low (from a gank or bad move or whatever), is the knock back from Let's Bounce. I've made the mistake a few times where I go to heal off of him with Renewal and he disables and kills me with my ult before I'm ready. His ult does a lot of damage, be aware.
Notes for laning against Zac:
- Be aware of his ultimate as I sad above.
- If your Focused Resolve/ Renewal is down and he engages, it may mean a gank is about to commence, as it is his ideal time to fight you.
- Inspire can help you counter the slow from Stretching Strike
This isn't my score, rather it's the score from a good friend of mine. He wasn't following this guide either. But I wanted to put it here as proof to everyone that Karma is just as good as an other AP carry. Please note the penta kill.meow
In Honor of Old Karma
I'm aware that there is a huge group of Karma players out there that still much prefer something (or everything) about old Karma that new Karma does not have ( or isn't.) So I decided to add this section. This is what I need everyone to do:
- Send me ANYTHING you have about old Karma. Whether it be scores, artwork, a memory or even just some random screencap from a game with a Karma in it, I want it!
I will take everything that I receive and put it into a giant collage in this section in old Karma's honor. Because we must remember her and how awesome she was. <3
Summary and Credits
Thank you for taking the time to read my guide!
This is my first (published) guide on for League of Legends and any constructive criticism that you have for me would be greatly appreciated. Please try not to downvote without telling me. I would love to be challenged and hear why I should be doing something differently. On the other hand any up-votes and comments would be welcomed!
I hope that with this guide that there will start to be new Karma players our there as people begin to realize what she is capable of outside of bottom lane. More importantly, I hope to cleanse the League of Legends community of those "Omg Mid/Top Karma GG" lobbies.
Thank you once again for reading my guide and I hope that it helped you any way possible.
I would like to thank the following people for their help in making this guide:
- jhoijhoi, for her wonderful guide on how to make a guide
- My good friend Boylad., for allowing me to use his photo of his Karma Penta-Kill in this guide.
- Silverhyren, from the Deviantart community for allowing to use their beautiful artwork throughout this guide.
- Cubby1313, for allowing me to use his smart-casting/options section and providing some inspiration for this guide. His Orianna guide can be found here. Check it out, it's awesome!
- Teyso, for taking the time to make a very comprehensive and informative review of my guide.
- July 22, 2013: Guide published for the public!
- July 25, 2013: Added AP Mid and AD Top Master Yi as well as Orianna to the matchup section!
- August 1, 2013: Removed the AP Master Yi section, added Zed, broke top and mid lane match ups into separate chapters, added a section in "Early Game" on how to deal with proxy farmers.