Bard Build Guide by Miltenks
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.
Threats to Bard with this build
|Soraka||A good Soraka will make it very difficult for you to kill her ADC, but this lane will have very little kill pressure on you. Consider using Ignite earlier on in a fight to weaken her healing, and try to kill her as fast as possible during an all-in.|
|Janna||You and Janna have similar range and poke, but you have more sustain. As Bard, you don't have to play an engage lane, so try to whittle Janna and her ADC down and heal your ADC to undo Janna's poke.|
Intro to Bard
Bard is a support champion who excels at setting up his teammates for kills and escaping from enemies. He benefits most from CDR and armor/magic resist to keep him in the fight and allow him to use his abilities as often as possible. He has a very unique kit; only part of his passive, Traveler's Call, and his Q , Cosmic Binding, do any damage at all. However, what he lacks in damage, he more than makes up for in utility. Bard is different from every other conventional support in his play style, which is why I think he's a fun way to change how you play the game. There are so many different ways to use his abilities together that I can't outline every single one of them in this guide, so get creative with your strategy!
Pros and Cons
- Bard can travel the jungle very quickly, meaning you can often sneak to the mid lane and gank to help get your mid laner ahead.
- Bard excels in teamfights and setting up picks for teammates. His Cosmic Binding can go through the tank front line to reach the enemy carries, his Tempered Fate can isolate important targets from their teammates, and his Magical Journey can reposition your teammates to flank the enemy.
- Bard can fairly safely traverse the enemy jungle for warding and sweeping thanks to his chimes and his Magical Journey.
- Against melee champions, Bard has good kiting and peeling ability thanks to the slows or stuns from his Cosmic Binding and the slow from his meep auto attacks.
- Bard's laning phase can be somewhat lackluster as he doesn't really excell in poke, sustain, tankiness, or CC, although he is decent in all of these categories.
- Bard can be difficult to play from behind as he relies on his team for damage and follow-up on his picks, and he has a hard time if he's forced out of his own jungle.
- Requires a lot of coordination and communication with your teammates, so Bard is not always a strong solo queue pick.
Core ItemsBecause Bard is a utility-heavy champion with built-in mana regeneration (with his chimes), the most important stat to get early is CDR. Prioritizing Ionian Boots of Lucidity are helpful for the 15% CDR (Bringing you to 20 with masteries) and also the extra movespeed to help you roam. You may want Sightstone first if you're wary of being ganked early and are short on gold. Upgrading your starting item in to Frostfang is optional, but if you get it early enough then it will actually contribute a good amount of gold throughout the game. After those items, grab a Kindlegem and upgrade it into a Locket of the Iron Solari whenever possible or necessary. A Randuin's Omen will top off the core items with a nice balance of health, armor, and magic resistance, with two helpful actives as well.
Completing Your BuildYou'll want to hit Tab often to view the enemy's items to see what you should be building. As Bard, you'll be building up your resistances in response to the enemy's main sources of damage. Refer back to the item build at the top for options after your core build, although you do have a decent amount of flexibility as Bard. Be careful not to invest too much in CDR items after you've hit 40%. If you do, then go ahead and sell your CDR boots for a more useful pair. I actually don't find Boots of Mobility to be optimal on Bard most of the time, as his chimes and Magical Journey tend to fill the role of quick roaming. You may still get them if you like of course, but I'd recommend grabbing either one of the resistance boots, Mercury's Treads or Ninja Tabi. If you don't need Enchantment: Homeguard, then I'd recommend Enchantment: Captain as you'll often be leading the way with your Magical Journeys. Either Enchantment: Alacrity or Enchantment: Homeguard are both fine choices though.
Passive - Traveler's Call
PASSIVELet's start off with Bard's passive, Traveler's Call. This ability is actually two different passives that work together; the first of which are the magic chimes that appear on the map around Bard. These chimes will appear in groups of two every 50 seconds, and will stay there for 10 minutes before disappearing. Collecting these chimes will restore 12% of your maximum mana, give you a small amount of experience, and give you a small speed boost that decays over time. It's tempting to go grab these whenever they appear, but don't get too antsy about it, since you have 10 minutes until they disappear. Save them for when you roam to another lane to make your journey faster, or grab them on your way back to your lane. I'll go in to more detail on when to grab them later.
Every five chimes you collect will upgrade your meeps, the other part of your passive. Every 10 seconds, a meep will appear and will be launched at the enemy with your next basic attack. Collecting enough chimes will upgrade your meeps to increase their damage, reduce their respawn time, do AoE damage, apply a slow, and allow you to hold more of them at a time. During the laning phase, it's a good idea to wait until you have a meep available to go for a trade with the enemy. Their extra damage is nothing to sneeze at at early levels, especially against squishy opponents. Throw in an auto attack every time you land a stun with your Cosmic Binding and you'll deal some considerable damage.
Q - Cosmic Binding
QNext is Bard's Q, Cosmic Binding. This skill is Bard's main form of poke damage and crowd control. If you hit an enemy with it, it will apply a 60% slow, and then continue on a short distance behind them. If it then goes on to hit terrain or another enemy, it will instead stun all affected targets. This includes player-made terrain such as Trundle's Pillar of Ice and Jarvan IV's Cataclysm. This means you can stun two enemy champions with this spell, turn an enemy's terrain against them, or stun an enemy that's hiding behind a minion! This ability may seem somewhat underwhelming compared to Morgana's Dark Binding, which has both longer range and longer stun time, or Lux's Light Binding, which can also stun two targets and has a longer range. However, this spell benefits from a short cast time, a fairly high projectile speed, and a low cooldown. This means that enemies will often have a hard time predicting your stuns, and you'll be able to stun enemies many times in a prolonged fight. You don't always have to use this ability to get a stun, though; sometimes the 60% slow is enough when chasing down a lone enemy. There's often something around that you can use to stun your enemy; be it the remains of a fallen turret or the rift scuttler on the river. Keep your eyes open and be creative!
W - Caretaker's Shrine
WMoving on to Bard's main form of sustain, Caretaker's Shrine. I recommend you grab this ability at level two, and start dropping them in a safe place (under your turret, in brush behind you, etc.) as often as you can. You can also cast this ability directly on an ally for a smaller amount of healing in a pinch. After sitting for 10 seconds, the shrines will become more powerful and heal more health. Let your ADC know where they are, and let them grab them after they get low on health. You're no Soraka, but the healing from these shrines is not insignificant and should not be ignored. You can only place three on the map at a time, but consider leaving them near camps for your jungler or under your mid laner's turret if you are doing well in your lane.
Aside from the heal, these shrines also offer a short speed boost upon picking them up. You can cast it directly on an ally to give them a quick speed boost which, when combined with your Cosmic Binding's slow will often allow a teammate to catch up to an escaping enemy and secure a kill. Even if you already have 3 shrines placed, you can still cast it directly on an ally without removing any of the already placed ones.
E - Magical Journey
EPerhaps Bard's most interesting ability, Magical Journey will open a portal on any terrain from one end to the other in a straight line. There's no limit to the length of this portal, other than the maximum length of any one piece of straight terrain. When a champion (including enemy champions) clicks on the entrance of the portal, they will then travel to the other side of the portal. Keep in mind that this is a one-way trip; once you've come out the other side, you can't go back the other way. There are many, many uses for this ability, and here I'll list the most common and useful ones.
- Flank enemies by travelling behind them
- Set up ganks by placing a portal that leads in to a lane
- Use it to escape enemies, especially after levelling it up
- Scare enemies away from the exit or distract them, by simply placing it so that the exit is visible and near the enemy and the entrance is not visible, and simply not travelling through it
- Greatly increase the speed at which you traverse the jungle while getting chimes or going to a lane
- Bait an enemy into following you through the portal into waiting teammates for a kill (but make sure your teammates are ready first!)
As with all of Bard's abilities, use your creativity to maximize the effectiveness of your spell by using it in ways your enemy won't predict. Think of it as a tool to quickly reposition multiple members of your team or the enemies team. As a final note, if you normally use quick-cast, consider using quick-cast with indicator for this ability, at least until you become more experienced using it. It will give you a visual indication of how far your portal will go, which will help you set up the more difficult long-range portals.
R - Tempered Fate
RProbably the most infamous of Bard's spells, his Ultimate, Tempered Fate. This is a long-range ability that, upon arriving at the target area, will place all units (including neutral monsters, minions, champions, towers, the dragon and baron nashor) into stasis for 2.5 seconds. This is a tough ability to use properly, and improper use can be extremely punishing for you and your team, so be sparing with when you use this ability. However, if you see a chance, don't hesitate to take it, as this ability has a fairly low cooldown once you've got your 40% CDR.
This ability can be boiled down to 3 main uses, although as with Magical Journey there are many, many possibilities. These uses are:
- Engaging an unsuspecting or distant enemy or enemies
- Disengaging a fight by putting chasing enemies in to stasis
- As an AoE Zhonya's Hourglass to avoid a powerful enemy ability, such as Caitlyn's Ace in the Hole or Zed's Death Mark
The first of these uses is perhaps the most difficult to use properly of the three. It's important to not use this ability after your team has already engaged upon an enemy or used their ultimate abilities. You wouldn't want to save your enemy from an incoming Enchanted Crystal Arrow! This is where it's important to communicate with your team. Perhaps quickly type "ulting" into the chat or give an "on-the-way" ping. Using your ultimate on one or more enemies in lane, and then using your Magical Journey to quickly position you and your team around them is a very potent tool for engaging, and, assuming you don't start a fight you can't win, will pretty much guarantee you one or more kills, or cost the enemy summoner spells and ultimate abilities. When using this ability in this way, try to avoid casting it from max range. Doing so will make it easy for your enemy to dodge, and will probably be a waste. Try to cast it from no farther than one to one-and-a-half screen lengths away. At this distance, you'll be much more likely to land the ability, or at least burn an enemy's Flash.
This ability is also very potent when used defensively. If you're losing a fight and trying to pull back but you've got a particularly persistent enemy team on your tail, drop your ultimate behind your team as they flee and they've got 2.5 seconds to get away. Couple this with a Magical Journey to escape, and even the fastest enemies will be left in the dust. Just be careful not to trap your teammates in it as well. With a little practice, you'll get the timing down and will have a powerful disengage tool when your team gets in over their heads. If your team already has powerful long-range engage tools like Ashe's Enchanted Crystal Arrow or Tahm Kench's Abyssal Voyage, you may want to save your ultimate for defensive purposes like this.
The third main use, avoiding powerful abilities, is a bit less common. As stated before, it's a good counter to long-range executes like Super Mega Death Rocket! or Ace in the Hole. If you can see the ability coming in time, place your ultimate down on the target and they'll be saved. It's not a good idea, though, to self-cast this ability against medium-range engage like Varus's Chain of Corruption or Malphite's Unstoppable Force. If you do, you've essentially just given them an even stronger source of engagement, as you'll be stuck for even longer in stasis, allowing the whole enemy team to catch up to you. In those cases, try to place your ultimate on the main damage dealers of the enemy team to prevent them from following up instead.
Other Notes About Bard's Abilities
- Although an enemy can Flash or use some other dash to escape, if this ability hit them before they did and then hits terrain or another enemy afterwards, they will still be stunned, possibly giving you a chance to catch up.
- The team barriers around the enemy's base that only they can walk through still count as terrain for the purposes of stunning or placing Magical Journey.
- The main projectile of Cosmic Binding and the second projectile that appears after hitting an enemy have separate ranges. The second projectile will travel the same distance no matter how far the first projectile travels, making it possible to get a stun beyond the max range of the first projectile.
- This ability is fairly straightforward. Try to always have a shrine or two to fall back on if a fight goes sour, to heal you and give you a speed boost to escape, especially in lane. During late-game teamfights, think of it as more of a speed boost than a heal when casting it directly on allies.
- Unlike Cosmic Binding, you cannot place Magical Journey on player-made terrain like Cataclysm or Crystallize. You can, however, place it on the team barrier entrances around the enemy team's base.
- If you can draw a straight line through any length of terrain that does not lead outside the map, then you can place your tunnel on that line. Some spots are a bit more deceptive, though. Although it's rarely particularly useful, you can use Magical Journey to go from the fountain to the edge of your base if you position yourself properly, although it's hard to pull off.
- You can use this ability to play mind games on your opponent. As mentioned before, simply placing the portal near an enemy will make them wary of incoming enemies, as long as they don't have vision of the entrance. If you're feeling particularly cheeky and you've got enemies chasing you, place down a random portal and then act like you'll go in to it, but just keep walking. Enemies often can't resist walking through portals and sometimes they'll go right on through even if you didn't. I wouldn't call this a reliable strategy, however.
- You can use this ability to help out turret-diving teammates by placing the attacking turret into stasis, as long as you're careful not to catch the champions in it too. It can also be used defensively against turret dives by placing it on whoever's being dived, leaving the enemy with just a turret attacking them. In this case, try not to hit the tower.
- This ability will not affect any enemy or turret that is untargetable, and any enemies (not teammates) that have a spellshield will also not be placed in to stasis.
- This is one of few CC abilities that can affect the dragon and baron. However, if you're going for a steal, then using your ultimate on whoever's got an execute abilty such as Smite, Rend, or Feast with proper timing can allow your team to position themselves for a quick execute on the dragon/baron with a Smite of your own.
What To Do In Lane
I've already gone over most of what I'm about to say, but I think it's a good idea to have it all in one place. A lot of how you play the lane is determined by champion matchups in lane and the skill of all players involved, which is something that will be learned best through experience, but some things are fairly universal.
- Poke often with your Cosmic Binding, and make sure to auto attack if you land a stun or outrange your opponent, especially when you have a meep at the ready.
- Leave Caretaker's Shrines in a safe place when you have them ready, and replace them after they're used. Casting them directly on your ADC when you don't need the speed boost will waste a good amount of heal, and this health can make the difference in winning the lane against an enemy who lacks sustain.
- Save your chimes for when you could use the mana, even if they're very close. Remember, they last for 10 minutes so there's no rush!
- You can use Ignite before the enemy ADC uses Heal during an all-in to reduce heal's effectiveness and increase the chances of securing a kill. Alternatively, you may want to save it for just before a low-health enemy uses an escape skill, like Tristana's Rocket Jump.
- With proper communication, you can use Magical Journey to great effect by setting up a gank that the enemy has little time to see coming. If you're out of sight, the enemy will often assume that you're collecting chimes, while you're in position to deliver you and your jungler straight to them. You might not be able to fool them twice, but they'll likely be more cautious when you're missing.
- Although Bard's different from many other supports, he still has the same duties that supports do, and prime amongst them is warding. Invest in an early Sightstone and a Vision Ward and drop wards while you're grabbing chimes or going to a lane. If the jungler is on the top side, take the opportunity to ward their bottom side jungle, especially around their blue/red buff and the river. Having vision on the enemy jungler removes a lot of the pressure of oncoming ganks. Of course, this doesn't end with the laning phase. Always be dilligent about your wards and place them near key objectives!
When To Roam
Roaming is important as Bard, but not more important than protecting your ADC. If you are losing your lane than ask for help and set up a gank with your Magical Journey. If you're going to roam, then set up wards around the bottom lane so your ADC has plenty of warning of an incoming jungler, as once the enemy sees you in another lane, your ADC will look like easy prey. Communicate with your lane partner to see if they're alright with you roaming to gank or collect chimes. You generally won't want to roam when the lane is pushed all the way in to your tower or when you don't have wards to place for vision. If you manage to secure a kill without heavy damage in the midlane and their lane is pushed, then ask them to come back with you to the bottom lane and snowball your lane as well. It's not entirely necessary to gank other lanes, though. If you're having trouble keeping even in your lane, then it's a better idea to simply try to get an advantage there instead of weakening your lane even further by leaving.
After The Laning Phase
This is the part of the game where Bard really shines. His Magical Journey and Tempered Fate both offer great objective control and allow Bard's team to force a favorable teamfight. You'll always have something to do in your down-time as Bard, be it collecting chimes, warding, or setting up kills in lanes.
TEAMFIGHTSAs far as teamfights go, your job as a support is to do everything in your power to tip the fight in your team's favor as much as possible. Use your Cosmic Binding to stun one or two key targets of the enemy's team. This could either be used to keep their tanks from getting within range of your team, or hold their back liners in place long enough for your team to get in position.
Position yourself on the fringes of the fighting zone, and keep yourself lined up with the enemy for a stun. Don't let their team get to your carries, and stun the enemy carries so your team can get to them. If a fight goes well, bard does an excellent job of cleaning up the scraps by speeding up allies and slowing, stunning, or even ulting an escaping enemy long enough to finish them off. If a fight goes poorly, Bard also does a great job of escaping even the most persistent enemies with those same tools.
OBJECTIVESObjectives are the targets on the map that give your team a strategic advantage when destroyed or slain. Baron, the dragon, enemy turrets, and to a lesser extent jungle camps are all considered objectives. You should pay attention to all of these, but the ones you'll want to focus on the most as a support are the dragon and baron. Hitting tab will allow you to see the time remaining until these monsters spawn, which you'll want to do often, especially for the dragon. Keep at least one ward with vision on or very near to the dragon as often as possible. When the dragon's remaining respawn time gets down to around 1:30 - 1:00, place wards on the enemy's paths of approach so you won't get taken by surprising when taking him on. The river near the dragon is also a hotspot for teamfights, and you'll always want full vision of the area if you think a teamfight could happen.
You'll usually want to go after the baron when most of the enemy team is dead, your team is doing well on health, and you have someone to tank the damage. One of the best times to slay the baron is right after pushing in to the enemy team's base and killing one or more key targets of their team. The same principles as the dragon area apply here as well, in terms of vision and fighting. Since baron is such a powerful objective, you can often force a fight here, since the enemy will rarely be willing to give it to you without trying to steal it or kill you. If the other team got to the objective first, keep in mind that your ultimate will also put the dragon and baron into stasis. Either cast Tempered Fate on the dragon/baron before they kill it and use that opportunity to start a fight with their team, or cast it on the members of their team with an execute ability (Cho'Gath's Feast, Kalista's Rend, anyone with Smite, etc.) and use that opportunity for your team to kill the monster themselves.
Hopefully this guide has been helpful for those of you looking to start playing Bard! His kit can be confusing at first, but it's easy to catch on with enough practice. I'd recommend trying him out in a few coop vs. AI matches before heading in to a real game, just to get a hang of his mechanics first. Bard's unique kit make him a very fun champion to play and he leaves a lot of room for creativity. I'm always learning some new interaction when I play him. Thanks for reading, and good luck!