Bard Build Guide by FearsForte
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
My summoner name is FearsForte, I am a sub on a Silver 7 Ranked 5s team with 47 LP which makes me as qualified to analyze the game and provide you with information as anyone on the Riot sponsored All Chat aside from the actual analyst. This guide is intended to teach you how to play Bard as an AP autoattack-based midlaner. On release Bard was considered a troll pick and had a 100% ban rate in ranked games because no one wanted him on their team. Since then, Bard has a received a slight buff which elevated him to the status of a god tier mid lane mage comparable to Cassiopeia.
League of Infidels (Difference between meta and pro picks.)
Many summoners only copy what pros do, and to be honest that has merit. Theoretically pro players who are getting paid will always use the strongest strategies possible because they are the most concerned with success. This leads to an atmosphere that is hostile toward off-meta picks, however most summoners don't understand the difference between off-meta and unexposed. The term sleeper refers to strong champions that have not seen much competitive play, these are often champions that are good in the meta but have not been demonstrated to a large number of viewers yet which leads to misunderstandings between players who pick sleepers and players who don't actually understand that the meta is criteria which you need a champ to fit not a set of champs.
Luckily, Bard has seen some exposure in NA LCS this past weekend, which shows that people are opening up to him to some degree.
Bard's main damage output comes from using autoattacks that scale with the number of chimes he has collected and ability power. Due to this, the best builds for AP bard require building attack speed and ability power.
Early Laning as Bard (Lv 1-3)
This is Bard's power spike. Most champions take 3 levels to reach a point where they can complete a combo, but Bard can use his autoattacks at level 1 to kite for substantial damage. Your first three levels as Bard will improve with your abilities as a player who understands various aspects of laning not your mastery of the champion.
In top lane it is a common strategy to stand in front when minions first arrive in lane, allow the melee minions to target you and then run into the bush. This will cause all the enemy melee minions to change to the same target minion on your side. The 6 minions on either side deal equal damage but because you focused the enemy damage it will kill one of your minions first reducing your sides damage output first and eventually causing the lane to push toward you. This is not recommended on most midlaners because there is no bush to reset agro in, but you can use Bard's Q which you start to stun the minions following you and cause the lane to push toward you making it easier for you to kite, especially against low range assassins which would otherwise be AP bards greatest threat as he is fairly squishy if caught.
Tip- If the enemy champion is ranged, try to bait out bad skillshots and waste their mana using your taunt (maybe dance? idk because I have it bound where trinket is supposed to go and don't type it in chat every time). Bard rides a small sled around the the taunt animation is significantly wider than his hitbox.
Understanding Early Roaming as Bard (Lv 3-5)
Bard needs to collect chimes to do damage. In order to collect chimes without losing mid tower while still in the laning phase you should ask your jungler to cover mid for a few minutes while you collect chimes. This will allow them to get farm more easily then actually jungling because to be honest they probably suck ***. The free farm given over will also contribute to reducing the sodium content of at least one of the remaining 3 members of your team after queue while giving you the chance to leave lane in perhaps your most vulnerable levels.
Also, you might as well roam because Bard's autoattacks do not do enough damage to last hit a melee minion that has taken two tower shots at this point in the game, so you personally will not be missing out on any farm.
Bard Insec Cheese (Lv6) ***Highly Difficult - Do Not Attempt Unless Korean
Around the end of level 5 you should ask your jungler to return your lane. Get 6 and then wait outside the thick wall near your tower. Let the enemy push up to the tower and start hitting it. Once the tower has killed all the melee minions use Magical Journey through the wall. You can cast while in magical journey so you should ult the caster minions freezing them and putting tower agro on the enemy laner. Once out of the tunnel quickly flash to the other side of them and Q them against the tower then proceed to autoattack. This cheese is extremely tough to pull off but will likely either make your enemy laner's eyes fall out putting the game into an even 4v4 or his team will flame him so bad that you get the same result.
Mid Game Skirmishing (Lv7-14)
Your goal in each team fight should be to ult the enemy ad carry or lux support as they should be the most farmed and providing the main enemy damage output. Once that is accomplished begin to kite the nearest enemy, not attacking the enemy front line or tank when they are the only one in range is a common low elo misconception. You should watch Gosu for kiting techniques and Looper's Ryze for how to handle Bard. Your autoattacks won't be super strong yet and you won't have a full build, but you should have enough chimes to slow with autos. Keep slowing a target until your team can collapse and finish them off and then switch to the next target. You will not last hit a champ with Bard so go for assists not kills at this stage.
Late Game (Lv15-18)
At late game you should have over 100 chimes and be dealing about as much per auto as Azir's soldiers with slightly less penetration on tanks but a much larger slow and vastly more utility. It's once again time to team up with your buddy the jungler because you are a beast at combo stealing objectives. Enemy team on baron? Wait for it to reach around 3k health, ult most of the enemy team, or at least their jungler, and magical journey your squad in to wreck shop and steal it.
Make sure to make use of Bard's kit. You can bait enemies into stuns with tunnels, you can bait enemies into isolation by setting a tunnel, leaving your team with someone following you and taking a thresh lantern back into the fight making it a 4v3 (NME sort of did this with Kalista ult but it was while running not fighting so it was only partially effective).
Use the speed boost from health packs instead of Righteous Glory by lining up a few and running across them in sync so that your support can build an even better tanking item.
Remember, at this point you're basically a combination of every other good champion in the game right now without their strong points, so now is the time to go ham and win.
Have a magical journey!
Best wishes in your Bard experience. You are making the world a better, more open minded place by playing him! Tell your parents you donated blood or gave money to the homeless or something after playing him in ranked so that they understand and praise the good you've done in a form that they can comprehend! Best of luck fam, if you read this far there's no going back, consider yourself a Bard main.
5.10ish Luden's Echo Change makes it no longer cost efficient on Bard because you now have to cast more spells to charge it.