Taric Build Guide by TRoosevelt
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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.
Tired of playing a passive support? Sick of getting stuck in the support role for solo que and thinking "There's nothing I can do to win this game"? This is a Taric build for us supports who want to dominate a lane, to crush it until there's nothing left but a gooey puddle for our AD carry to roll around in.
Note: This probably isn't "competitive". I'm not a competitive player and neither are the vast majority of players out there. If you're looking for a Taric build to take to a tournament...try it and let me know. This is something different that I've had a lot of fun with and that I think will work for the vast majority of "pretty good" players.
TL, Won't Read
Very few AD carries or supports build armor, especially early game. Shatter's armor debuff is very powerful early game because it shreds critical, low level armor. While the typical AD carry will have 30-40 armor, a level 1 or 2 Shatter will remove 10-15 armor, or reduce their damage reduction by at least 10%. Combo this with the common ArP runes a lot of AD carries run and you (and your carry) will be doing near true damage to them after a Shatter. This lets you play very aggressive early on since few carries or supports can take that king of punishment. Add in an aggressive summoner spell to capitalize on this advantage and you can perform very strong lvl 2-3 fights. With enough success, you can potentially zone out the other team early on, giving you a massive lane advantage.
Most supports play very passively, healing their carry and grabbing aura items to "help the team". We're not gonna do that; Taric is extremely strong at low level, probably peaking about level 7 where he has a strong stun, nuke/debuff, and a nuke/steroid. Rather than play passively, we're gonna maximize this early game strength, play very aggressive, and force the other team out of lane.
How we do this is very simple, we abuse the basic Taric combo that everyone knows: Dazzle-> Shatter->Attack. All this build does is #1 add Ignite for early damage and #2 ask you to play aggressively, not defensively.
The reason this works is because while Shatter is a fairly unimpressive nuke it also shreds the targets AR. At low levels, any loss of AR translates into big changes in damage.
For this math, AR is determined as (AR/100+AC) so an AR of 100 gives damage reduction of (100/200) or 50%
So an AR 30 champ has a damage reduction of 30/130 or about 23%
Drop that down to AR 20 and you get 20/120 or about 16.5%
With ArP Marks we're dealing with an AR of 5, so 5/105 or about 4.5%
And it's not like things get better for them. At max level Shatter will completely obliterate their AR, letting you and your carry do constant true damage.
The end effect is that following your basic combo, their carry just took about 100 magic damage plus any attacks you and your partner managed to get off. Then you have a solid 4 second advantage where they just can't fight evenly with you. Add in your Ignite and they basically have to run. Sure, they might hit you but Taric is tough and with your Regrowth Pendant you can out sustain them (and your carry probably won't even get hit).
The timing of fights is tough. I've become fond of aggressive lvl 2 ganks because it gives you a massive early advantage but against a solid team you probably can't. Level 3 is good, so is level 5, and if you can't win at level 6 (with your full combo) something's gone wrong and I hope your other lanes are doing well. While there's a danger to early ganks, there's also a danger to late ones. As the levels progress your targets get tougher and they have their full complement of skills (escapes, traps, stuns, etc). You'd be surprised how early you can win fights.
Once you've got the advantage, zone! Zone always, zone constantly, never let them get any gold and if you can don't let them get XP. This is what you fought for, this is what you built for, this is how you win the lane. Ideally you want to be in their bushes keeping them away, with your AD in the middle of the creeps peacefully farming. Keep your eyes open for ganks and don't worry about harass (they will but with Regrowth Pendant/ Philosopher's stone and your armor and your heal it's hard to really hurt you).
Drop 1 ward in the lane bushes to keep them from hiding (can't stun what you can't see) and one in the riverside bushes for the inevitable ganks.
A note on Harassing
There are lots of other supports ( Sona, Soraka, Janna) who harass much better than we do. We're not harassing them. We're out to kill. If they don't run from us we have every intention of beating them to death. We're not harassers, we're killers.
Harassers try to do small amounts of damage semi-regularly to lower your health to the point that they can win a fight. And it can be very effective, it can even be a huge challenge for us. But don't play Taric with the mindset, because that mindset says "Poke them, prod them, weaken them, and then they can't attack my carry or the carry can fight them." It's ultimately a defensive strategy, still dependent on their AD carry taking the initiative. Still hoping someone else will win the lane for them.
That's not what we're doing. Yeah, we need our carry to help because a 2v1 isn't fair but we're going to initiate, we're gonna smack them, we're doing the damage, and if they don't run we're going to kill them. 1v1 we'd fight either their carry or support and win. We're stronger, we have more health than anybody (save Ali), we have more damage (at 5% reduction we're doing roughly 60 damage a hit, to their 50-ish). They can either fight and die or they can run and die later.
Sure, they can run and get away (we're too slow to really chase) but if they get near the creeps there's gonna be a fight and we're gonna kill somebody. That's how this Taric is meant to be played. Make sure you can win a head to head fight with the other team at low levels and then fight them every decent chance you get.
If they run this may look like harassment, the other team might even think of it as harassment, but don't fall into this trap. The harasser ultimately thinks "I need an edge, I need the other team to be weak to win." Taric thinks "Even if you're at full health, I can beat you and kill you."
When the Jungler Comes
Do this right, get a kill or two, and their jungler is gonna come to gank. And if he camps then your AD carry won't be able to farm like they used to and the enemy bot lane will probably come back and start farming again.
I have one thing to say about this: GOOD
I WANT their jungler to come gank bot, I WANT all his ganks bot, I WANT him camping in their river bushes the whole game if I can manage it.
See, a jungler is gonna gank, it's what they do, their purpose. But there's only so many times they can gank, only so many opportunities they have. By playing aggressive we force the jungler bot, we make him gank us, we decide where he spends his time. And there's two great reasons to do this.
First, we can handle it better than any other lane. We can't win a 3v2 but it's a heck of a lot better than mid or top where their jungler makes it a 2v1 which no champ can win. There's challenges sure, 3 different characters are out for us, but bot simply has better odds against a jungler than other lanes, especially with Dazzle.
Second, I'd like all my dear AD carries to close their ears. I love all my AD carries but AD carries do not win games. They can but I've yet to see one dominate the game like a fed Olaf or Irelia or Gangplank can. AD carries are always underleveled compared to their solo compatriots and being so squishy they always attract tons of attention. Even the dumbest team can focus on a glass cannon. I'd much rather have their jungler bot and our jungler ganking top and mid freely than let their jungle run around.
I don't think I do anything out of the ordinary here. I would advise you to find a "baby". Baby here means a solid player who's always going to need heals. Maybe it's your AD carry, maybe your AP carry, maybe a very aggressive Jungler or top who always gets a lot of attention. The point is, find the guy who #1 deserves the heal by carrying or just generally being a boss and #2 always needs to be at full health. I'm not saying don't heal anybody else, between fights heal whoever needs it, but find that one person who deserves your support and protect them. Make sure you're supporting someone worth supporting.
I do this because it's easy to get confused in a team fight and worry about healing the wrong player. I'd rather have early and consistent heals than overthink it and have poor and late heals.
Once you've found your baby, protect them. Two kinds of characters are gonna come after your baby:
#1 Beasts: Olaf, Rammus, Irelia, any kind of tanky character with disables or strong damage are gonna go after your squishy baby. And, sadly, you're pretty limited to Dazzle/Shurelyas for escapes.
#2 Assassins: Kassadin, Akali, Shaco, squishy guys with sneaky skills and big damage. These guys we can do something about. Remind them that you still have some respectable burst with Dazzle-> Deathfire Grasp-> Radiance-> Shatter. Yeah, Annie may be giggling about Taric as a burst champion but Shatter, Radiance, and Deathfire can easily give you 1000 magic damage on a character with low resistances and low health. They have to notice that and think twice before coming in. Do it well and you'll knock off half their health while they're still stunned and stuck in the middle of your team.
One last thing. Radiance and Shatter are both AOE and in the right (rare) circumstances it's worthwhile to leave your baby and go in. If 3-4 enemy characters are clustered together (say a melee fight) a well timed Radiance/ Shatter/ Randuin's Omen can deal 1500-ish magic damage and drop a pair of powerful debuffs on the whole enemy team. I'm not saying I do it often, but it can swing a close fight and it's one of the few chances you'll have of making a big play later game. It is also incredibly manly.
Flash: Gotta have Flash for escapes. You'll be diving in, taking creep hits, and inevitably a jungler is coming for a gank. And Taric too slow to escape without Flash.
Ignite: This gives you burst, it pumps you combo from 100-ish damage to 200-ish damage early game and a 500-600 health carry has to respect that. One you drop the AD carry the lane is yours and with this their carry has to be cautious. There's nothing they can do (short of Sivir or Morgana Support) to stop your basic combo. This gives you a huge zoning advantage, especially if you've hit them before and they're below full health. You'd don't have to drop it immediately but make sure they know you can hit them hard if they fight and they can't stop you. And sometimes, if they're stupid, you'll get a kill and that means lane dominance and early GP/10 items for you. Plus, it'll stop any heals their support might have.
Exhaust: Man, this with the mastery and Shatter this will drop any early character's AC down to almost nothing, gives you five seconds of disable, nullifies their damage... It's so juicy and I've taken it a few times but the hard truth is I prefer 200-ish burst damage. I've tried it both ways, Exhaust is great, but it just, it never seems to quite have the punch of Ignite. I'd love to try Exhaust/ Ignite with Movespeed Quints/Masteries but I can't afford them and so this goes untested for now.
Heal: Taric's heals aren't very good, which makes this tempting, and this'll definitely win you fights early game but it still lacks the punch of Ignite. With Heal I feel like I'm constantly fighting to keep them down. Sure I can do my combo a lot but I'd rather do one or two powerful ganks than 3-4 weaker ones. Besides, in your combo they'll usually focus you, not your carry, and and I'd rather die to kill their carry than have us both walk away alive.
I DON'T recommend:
Clairvoyance: Yes, the pros use it. Yes, it's the "correct" summoner spell. But ask yourself these two questions:
#1 Can I use it well?
Do you have enough map awareness that you can spam this every minute and get good info out of it? Do you know when to use it and when not to? Do you know all the typical jungle routes and which champions favor them? Can you predict the route of a jungler who just ganked top at 5:30? 6:30? Be honest
#2 Can my team use it well?
If you spot their jungler doing blue at start, is your jungler capable of using that to invade? If you don't see their jungler at red a minute later, do they know what that means? Will they notice?
Ignite is very powerful and can give you a lot of lane dominance. Clairvoyance is very difficult to use properly, especially with teams that don't ward. Be honest with yourself about whether that vision is going to be valuable enough to justify dropping Ignite given your skills and your teammate's skills.
Clarity: Yes, Taric needs mana regen. Buy some blue pots, rush philosopher's stone, and make them so scared they don't want to fight. There's nothing you can build for the cost of 4 blue pots that'll give you the early game advanatge of Ignite.
Other Summoner Spells:
Are you getting the same lane advantage as Ignite? If not, don't take it. Yes, Teleport is awesome, sure, I can see Promote working really sometimes. I don't think those are worth early game lane dominance
ArP ( Greater Mark of Desolation): Yeah, this seems odd but full ArP marks and even a single level of Shatter will remove 25 AR, that's basically all a typical carry's armor. Taric isn't an AD champ by any stretch but even he can beat someone to death when they have no armor.
Greater Mark of Hybrid Penetration: These are probably ideal, you lose some ArP but get juicy MrP. I haven't bought these because they're expensive and rarely used. If you have them, try them and let me know how they work before I drop 3700 IP on them.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: They work for any AP champ so you've probably got them and they give your burst a little extra pump.
Greater Seal of Armor: Popular, common, and effective. You probably have them. Since you'll basically be diving in on their AD and soaking the creeps, every point of armor helps.
Greater Seal of Health. If you have these instead of Armor seals use them, they're just not as good.
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: Sona, Soraka, Janna. They're all common supports who deal decent magic damage. Tough as you are, kiting and harassment from these guys is probably a bigger concern for you than anything the AD is doing. Again, one of the most common runes out there.
Greater Glyph of Ability Power: AP fits our theme and with AP Quints you could be nasty but Taric simply doesn't scale well with AP. Between Dazzle and Shatter this adds maybe 10 damage. I'd rather be tanky.
Greater Quintessence of Health: Yes, they're expensive but they give you serious health and they're solid on basically every champion and recommended on many, probably most. For someone diving in, they give you a safety net when you dive in. It's just too useful.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: You might be able to go Ignite/ Exhaust or Ignite/ Clairvoyance with these and masteries. I could see it work but I can't test it.
Taric's skill sequence is pretty straightforward, the only real question is when to get Imbue. The quick rule of thumb is to get it early against strong harass. It's viable at level 2,3,4 but not generally worth delaying Shatter.
Gemcraft: Pretty useless honestly. You can't use without pushing the lane and exposing yourself to harass. At 7.5% if you're doing 50-ish damage a hit you'll get about 4 mana a hit. Useful on occasion but it can't replenish your mana pool.
Imbue: Use this to heal during and after fights and to heal from harass before a gank. Don't get me wrong, you're paying 80 mana for 120 health between you and your carry but it'll help sustain lanes and if you have the spare mana it's worth it. Just don't imagine you can spam this. This is a very mana-expensive spell to give you a slight edge in fights and to recover afterwards for zoning. Remember you need about 160 mana for Dazzle/ Shatter and about 260 for Dazzle/ Shatter/ Radiance.
Shatter: We love Shatter. On defense it means we can tank AD damage without items, and it passively protects our carry. On offense, it feeds our mighty hammer. It's an AOE burst that makes our hammer hurt. It makes us boss. Note that when we activate Shatter we lose the aura AR but keep the passive AR bonus to ourselves, which keeps us tanky.
Dazzle: It's a simple, nearly spamable stun. What more do you want? It's damage is pretty poor and the travel time is slow (read Sivir solo, Morgana teamfights) but it's arguably our most critical skill. Without it we'd have no lane presence. We get this first level, no argument, no exceptions.
Radiance: This is where Taric gets really strong. It's our second nuke and it's AOE. It's also provides a very nice buff to you teammates and you. This skills changes as the game progresses. Early game and during ganking it's a nuke, it precedes shatter (the AP boosts Shatter a bit) and the aura is bonus. Late game the aura effect becomes more important because 25-25 AD/AP for your whole team makes more of a difference, especially as the damage trails off.
Summary: Dazzle is our CC, Shatter and Radiance our nukes and buff/debuff, with Imbue as a unimpressive but useful sustain tool.
Nothing out of the normal here except for Brute Force . There's nothing wrong with taking the AP, it's just that with our armor reduction Brute Force should provide a bigger payoff. The CDR here is too cool to miss and I doubt that you'll get an extra attack off from 4 ADS. We take Arcane Knowledge over Weapon Expertise because they're percentile reductions, in other words Weapon Expertise isn't going to reduce a lot off an AC of 30 but late game when MR can be 100+ Arcane Knowledge will payoff.
Expanded Mind and Mediation gives us some much needed Mana and Mana Regen, especially early game. Swiftness help us out with our pathetic MS and Greed and Wealth are obvious. Intelligence gives us 10% CDR total and Mastermind is awesome for Flash and Ignite.
The lack of Awareness may bother some people but I'm just unimpressed with Awareness in general. Since it's percentage based it only really begins to pay off late game when you have thousands of XP and even then it's not too impressive. Sage doesn't always pay off but because it gives us a flat boost it's much more impressive early game when we care. As an example, a single assist around level 3-4 will gives us a much XP from Sage as 4 points of Awareness . This lets you potentially get some big payoffs. I'm not saying it's for sure, if there's no kills then Sage won't payoff, but Awareness never pays off early game. Sage at least has a chance to.
I don't take anything here but I can't see anything wrong with taking the Defensive tree to Veteran's Scars for the HP and Resistances. If you don't have the Quintessence of Health take these.
Start off with a Regrowth Pendant and 2 Blue Pots.
This should give you all the HP and MP regen you need early game and lets you get Philosopher's Stone very early.
As an alternative, try a Faerie Charm, 2 Wards, 2 Blue pots, and 3 Red Pots.
This lets you ward both bushes from the start with enough regen to keep you comfortably in lane. It does push back Philosopher's Stone though.
From here we got straight to Philosopher's Stone and wards, even before boots. With the massive HP and MP regen for a casty slugger like us we'd pick this up even if it wasn't GP/10. Boots, wards, and a Heart of Gold are the next pickups for speed and toughness but don't bother to get Mercury Treads yet (they're lovely but too expensive)
Now comes our first hard choice and it's not an obvious one. We need to choose between Aegis of the Legion and Deathfire Grasp. The issue is, at it's core, about item slots. Wards take up one slot, Boots another, and our mandatory GP/10 items take up to more. And since we really want one slot open for components when we're building Shurelya's Reverie and Randuin's Omen, we need to decide whether we're gonna build a Kage's Lucky Pick or a Null-Mantle Cloak. Each one builds into really nice items for us but one makes us tough and the other keeps us bursty. For me, this comes down to teams comps. If my team doesn't have anyone really tanky, or if the other team has a AP DPS character like Karthus, I generally go Aegis of the Legion, otherwise I go Kage's Lucky pick. As Taric we don't really need the AR from Aegis of the Legion or the Health (Since Kage's lucky pick-> Shurelya's reverie give us equivalent health for the cost) so we're primarily looking for the MR. And Taric doesn't really worry about nukers as long as he has decent health (sure, they might burst you, but if their AP is wasting his burst on Taric it's a win for your team). However, if your team needs someone tanky, and there's no tank to take the focus off them, then Aegis of the Legion is correct. Grab it, accept that your damage will trail off, and do the best job as a tank you can. And you'll be ok, with Aegis of the Legion you'll be rocking 200-ish AR and 100-ish MR, which is decent enough. Kage's lucky pick gives you an AP boost which fuels your combo, you'll have crazy GP for a support with 3 GP/10 items, and it builds into Deathfire Grasp which we like. Of course, we always keep buying wards. Let me illustrate this:
Early game we might have this
Now if we go for Shurelya's Reverie we'd see this, shurelya's reverie
And eventually this,
If we go Aegis we'd see something more like this, Aegis of the Legion
The main point is that we always leave a spot open for our components. On someone as gold-poor as Taric we can't save up 1500-ish gold for completing an item. Much better to have the component and be able to buy something useful every trip home, even if we only have a few hundred gold available.
From there, whether we built Aegis of the Legion or Kage's lucky pick, it's time for Shurelya's reverie (and wards). Shurelya's reverie rocks socks; we get health, more sustain, CDR, and one of the best actives in the game. Plus it's cheap to build off Philosopher's Stone (1400) and it's component rocks.
Some notes on Shurelya's Reverie. First, buy it even if there's another one on your team because it's not like other aura/support items. If you have two Zeke's Herald one of those aura is wasted, if you have two Shurelya's reverie your team can run superfast for six seconds instead of three, which is so awesome. Second, get a feel for Shurelya's reverie range to make sure your teammates get the boost. Finally, use Shurelya's reverie primarily to chase if you and your teammates have other escape options (Flash off CD, blinks, viking rage, etc.) and primarily as an escape tool if you don't.
Now if we went Aegis of the Legion we ignore this next part and go straight for Randuin's Omen and more wards. If we took Kage's lucky pick, however, we get to have fun because now we build Deathfire Grasp and wards. Deathfire Grasp may seem an odd choice for Taric but it actually gives us a lot of nice stuff. It's cheapish (1800-ish after Kage's lucky pick) and it's component is fairly cheap and useful. We get some nice CDR and mana regen from Deathfire Grasp (with Shurelya's reverie we can freely heal spam now), AP (which is nice but not critical) and a third nuke in the active. Besides the CDR (bringing us to 35% CDR) Deathfire Grasp brings us back into the burst game. You still won't burst anyone to death but it'll do 300-600 magic damage to most targets. Add in 500-ish damage from Shatter/ Radiance and the stun from Dazzle and you can stop any assassin in their tracks.
Finally we look at Randuin's Omen AND WARDS. Randuin's Omen has great synergy with Aegis of the Legion and less with Deathfire Grasp so let's look at them seperately.
Randuin's Omen is early enough in the build order that you might reasonably build up to it by the endgame. Randuin's Omen let's Aegis Taric kind of initiate. You'r armor will be so high that you can tank AD champs pretty well although AP champs remain a problem. They can burst you down fast enough that the AD can finish you off without trouble. If you can complete Randuin's Omen with a Negatron Cloak, however, you're pretty good. And initiating with Taric can work well, Dazzle has decent initiation and you can get a big debuff off Randuin's Omen active (use it in the middle of the enemy team as soon as possible). Don't fool yourself that you're a great initiator (you aren't) but you'll be mediocre and sometimes that gets the job done, especially if your teammates follow close behind. Besides, where better for your AOE bursts than in the middle of the enemy team?
For Deathfire Taric, we rarely get to Randuin's Omen and we can't synergize it with Aegis of the Legion (plus we can't run in like Aegis Taric can. However, this late in the game Randuin's Omen active is one of the best things we can pick up. Look for opportunities to pop it and catch enemies at it's edges. It's also useful with Shurelya's reverie once the enemy team is running.
It's very rare for a game to go beyond this point but if you do find yourself in the endgame with spare money and all your items build, here are my recommendations. We're primarily looking for MR, since it's our only vulnerable-ish point:
#1 Negatron Cloak and Elixir of Fortitude. Negatron Cloak gives us the best mr for gold of any item in the game and Elixir of Fortitude gives us a cheap pile of HP that will come in handy for a game that isn't likely to go on much longer. Cheap and effective tanking.
#2 Wit's End. This is so, so tempting because it gives us dreams of being a tanky-dps. After all, we have a powerful AD steroid and plenty of ArP and Wit's End covers up our biggest weakness: AS. Don't forget Wit's End's passive for 42 magic damage, with Radiance that's an additional 112 damage we'll be throwing and it gives us a nice MR boost. Unfortunately, I've just never felt Taric can pull it off. We've got a lot of cool tricks but that doesn't make up for the late game gold difference between us and an Olaf or a Tryndamere
#3 Ionic Spark. Even more AS than Wit's End, health, and a very annoying passive. Worth consideration but has the same problem Wit's End has.
#4 Soul Shroud. Not every build needs the CDR but this is nice, big, and tanky.
#5 Phage/ Giant's Belt into Frozen Mallet. Man, what's up with your game if it's gone this far. Another slow on top of tons of health ain't bad but the cost and lack of open slots requires an hour-long game.
A final word on Aegis Taric v Deathfire Taric: Aegis Taric is kind of an off-tank off-initiator with debuffs. Deathfire Taric is a carry protector who works well against assassins. Which one you go with depends on the enemy team.
A NOTE ON VISION (PINK) WARDS and ORACLES:
Pink wards are a wonderful early game investment. If you have the spare money for them early game take them, especially if you've got some kills/assists. The main thing pink wards do is kill your opponents wards. They can't see junglers, they can't see your bushes, and when you drop them they either have to B just to buy pink wards or accept your mastery of both brushes until they B for another reason. Plus, killing one of their wards is the most satisfying 25gp you can make with your pants on.
Oracles is different. Oracles is great on supports that hang back and might be worthwhile on a Deathfire Taric but Oracle's is expensive (400gp) on a character who rushes in and beats on them. As Taric you take risks and smart risks win games but Oracle's is simply too expensive to put on a low gp character taking those risks.
I DO NOT RECOMMEND:
Thornmail: No one is going to kill themselves on your spikes and that super high AR isn't so great on Taric who already has high AR. Much better to get Warden's Mail for the AS debuff and build into Randuin's Omen. Remember, with Heart of Gold building Randuin's Omen is only 250 gold more than Thornmail and so, so much better.
Any high MR item ( Force of Nature, etc): Just buy Negatron Cloak if it's really a problem. Most of these high MR items are very expensive without giving much more MR than the simple Negatron Cloak. Maybe a Quicksilver Sash if they have a Malzahar and Warwick, maybe.
One last note, you might have noticed a lack of build options. That's because supports all generally build the same way. Quite simply, the lack of gold a typical support faces, and the limited number of GP/10 items forces us into a few simple build paths. Without gold, you build into GP/10 items and then do your best to build on your GP/10 items into your big items. There's very few early game options for Taric besides Philosopher's Stone and Heart of Gold and they greatly limits our build options later on. This also means it's very difficult to counterbuild (ie, build MR against an AP heavy team). I certainly recommend trying to counterbuild in specific instances but in general you're too gold starved to really do it well.
90% of this guide is a mental shift from "Support protects AD Carry" to "Support wins lanes". There's actually not a lot different here from most Taric builds (Ignite, ArP marks, and Kage's/Deathfire). The main difference is in mentality, in realizing that your AD carry is probably the weakest character on either team early game. That doesn't mean you need to be defensive, the enemy carry is just as weak as yours, but it does mean it's up to you to win your lane. So go win it. You'll help your team, help yourself, help your carry, and most of all you'll have a lot more fun than just watching your carry last hit creeps.
I'll leave you with an inspiring story from Dufftime's "Offtanks, The New Metagame"
"Pardon my theory crafting, but, shall we explore the facts? When properly runed, Taric with exhaust/ignite will easily first blood Xin. There's literally nothing he can do about it. You just Stun him, shatter, and walk away. Stun him, shatter, and walk away. If you have mana regen runes, and a Doran's ring or a faerie charm or a meki pendant, you can heal, and xin can't, because you'll be standing in-between him and the creeps. There's literally nothing he can do about it. He -WILL- die if he tries to CS and heal with his passive. And chances are, he bought a Doran's blade which will be useless to him.
Yet, Taric is considered a support champion, not a solo champion. Even though he can beat most solo lane champs with the right runes and summoners, he is not considered a solo lane champ himself."
3/25/12: Added items and descriptions based on comments.
Thanks to jhoijhoi for this guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/making-a-guide-101506