Why Sona? She can heal, damage, haste, and has a nice aoe ult that can turn teamfights around. Even though she can deal nice damage Sona needs health, CDR, and mana regen more. This build is for a supporting Sona, rather than AP nuke. Why does support Sona not want to stack AP? Because her heal only has a .25 scaling with AP (Sona Wiki) and so any AP you get is mostly going to improve her offensive spells rather than her heal. Because on this we will focus on SUSTAINED healing / buffing with aura items rather than bursty such as Soraka. Sona makes a great support champion because her smart heal can keep your team up, your ult gives your team an edge with the stun, and with her haste + shurelya's you can get your team in and out FAST. Why is she a faceroll support? Because 3/4 of her spells you don't even have to target! :)
This build / playstyle is aimed for ranked games, and I've used it a fair amount in both ranked and normals. You may not have impressive kills but your assists will be through the roof and you'll be carrying your team by keeping their butts alive. If this more supporty playstyle doesn't suit your taste then check out some other more damage oriented guides here on mobafire.
My Skills and Early/Mid/Late Game sections contain all my tips, tricks and playstyle walkthroughs, so please read them if you could use help in that area.
So my Sona build was out of date and I pretty much just redid everything, so I will go over the changes with you. I don't have time to go through and edit the whole guide now, so if there's discrepancies later in the guide the information in this section is correct.
Summoners - Exhaust is the usual spell for supports now. Typically the carry will take heal so he can get more benefit from it, and you as the support take exhaust to help with kills / trades. Exhaust is a great summoner for protect your carry / securing kills. Exhausting the enemy carry in lane will make him do almost no damage for the duration.
Items - Oracles is important to get as a support so that you can put a big dent in their map awareness. Most of the time the enemy will get this too, so you don't want them to have a bunch of wards and you have none. Zeke's is the item I usually get because there tends to be more ad / bruisers on the team than ap's with the current meta and this item is really useful for them. Always have a spot to keep wards, and if you get done with those items buy merc treads to replace your cdr boots.
Masteries / Runes - Switched to defensive masteries since overall they're stronger than support masteries. These defensive runes / masteries let you harass the enemy carry / support better and zone them better. Since you take defensive masteries you can lose the health quints I used to have for gp10 quints.
Early Game (1-8)
Playstyle / Laning:
Grab your items and group up with your team to protect your jungler. Use Clairvoyance (CV) to scout the enemy jungle (usually blue buff) and see what the enemy team is up to. If you are lower level / your team doesn't group just head bottom (you should always have 2 champs bottom to protect dragon) and use CV to see who is mid / top. Keep in mind to use CV as much as you can to either track the enemy jungle, watch out for ganks if enemies are MIA, or to scout the brush in top / bot (lowest priority). CV takes practice and for you to constantly think "where do I want to see?" so don't give up, keep practicing! I found it helpful to learn jungle routes for different junglers as it helps me track them with CV.
Now you are in your lane and the creeps are rolling out. The goal of early game is to babysit your lane partner, let them have all the creep kills (yes I mean ALL of them), and harass the enemy so they leave your lane partner alone.
Sona can put out some formidable deepz with her Q + power chord and give quite a surprise to the enemy. I usually level my Q and W up equally, but depending on how you're doing in lane you might want to max one before the other. If you lane with a champ that has a good early game (stuns / high damage) you can probably net some kills, and you might want to max your Q first. If you are laning with a passive lane partner that just needs to farm, just focus on healing them up and harassing the enemy by yourself (this means you would level your W first).
Once you hit 6 you can almost always get a kill by harassing the enemy down, then coordinating with your lane partner / jungler that you are going to try to get a kill with your ult. When trying to get a kill keep in mind to have your Q + powerchord ready to burst them down. If you don't think you can get a kill with your ult just save it in case you need to save your lane partner from a gank.
If your lane partner wants to roam / gank another lane hold the lane for them. You have very good lanestay with your heal and mana regen. At this point you can kill creeps! ;D
If at the end of the phase neither you or your partner has died, you have 0 CS, and your partner has a ton, it's a GREAT SUCCESSS! (Just keep this in mind if you didn't manage to get any kills early game)
Always always ALWAYS get a Philosopher's Stone first. Since you are giving all the CS to your lane partner you will need the gold per 10 secs. If your team's not warding dragon try to buy 1 ward for dragon, but you will be very low on money since you have no CS, so if you can't afford it that's ok.
Mid Game (9-14)
Mid game you will start teamfighting. Make sure to be there when your team is getting ready to fight, or take a map objective (baron / dragon/ enemy red or blue buff). Keep in mind to keep those CV's strong in places that need them. For example if you are invading their jungle CV ahead of your team to make sure you don't run into a trap, or if you are pushing a tower CV in the nearby jungle to see if the enemy is trying to sneak up on you.
Sona's Role in Teamfights:
During teamfights focus first and foremost on healing on every CD, then on damage, then on using your E for mobility. By this I mean W > Q > E. However, you should be spamming all of these skills on CD if mana allows. If you run out of mana only use your W! You can get by with your passive mana regen and only using W when your mana comes back up. Stick by your carry and make sure they are safe. Save your R until you can hit 2 or 3 enemies, or if one of your teammates has a good aoe ult (such as Amumu, Nunu, or Vladimir) try to time your ult to help facilitate their ult. If you have Amumu let him initiate and then ult them right after his ult is wearing off for twice the benefit. If you have a Nunu let him ult to slow them, then you can stun them to let him get off a nasty max duration Absolute Zero. If you are with a Vladimir ult 3 enemies, and this will let him line up his ult for some crazy damage. If the enemy has a nasty habit of diving your carry (maybe a Xin Zhao, Master Yi, or Kassadin?) you can use your ult to peel them off your carry. If they dive YOU then make sure to flash out or use Zhonya's Hourglass to protect yourself.
Moar wards plz? Kthx!:
At this stage in the game, even though you are gold-starved, you need to start warding. The Philosopher's Stone should help you afford to buy wards. As a support you are helping your team out by buying wards so your carries / tanks don't have to and can be stronger. Here is a guide about warding by Awwgasm, and it gives extensive picture references of the places to put wards to maximize their potential. I will tell you this, wards win games.
Dependent on Opposing Team:
- Get this if their team is high on AD champions or dps stacking attack speed. Ex: Ashe Twisted Fate Kog'Maw Master Yi If you need both replace Abyssal Scepter. This + randuin's + aegis should shut down auto attacking champs pretty well.
- A good item, the main reason I don't normally buy this item is I prefer CDR boots for faster CDR, and Shurelya's Reverie is a must on Sona. However, if you need to buy Mercury's Treads this will be a good item to round off your CDR.
- Getting owned by mages or cc? Get a BV!
- If ad heroes are giving your team trouble / owning your carry seriously consider this item. It's active will be very good for protecting your team, and give you a lot more survivability from ad / autoattack heroes. An early game Heart of Gold can help with survivability / gold gen as well.
- Only get this item if the other team (especially ad champs) are specifically focusing YOU down in teamfights rather than your carry. This might happen if you are running a mostly tanky dps team and you are the squishiest target. Replace either abyssal or randuin's with this item depending on what type of damage is dealing the most damage.
- Get Mercury's Treads if their team is very high on CC / has enemy champs that will dive you to take you out. Ionian Boots of Lucidity are the best as long as you can stay in the back of the fight and no one can get to you.
Dependent on Your Team Composition:
- Could be a very good item if you are on a team with nukers / people that could benefit from it. Ex: Vladimir Anivia Veigar.
- This is a good buff to you and your team's survivability early game. Make sure to communicate to your tank that you are going to buy Aegis so you're not wasting buffs. If the tank is adamant on getting it then look for another situation item.
- This is a nice buff to your ad carries and tanky DPS. I take this item a lot since it works well in the current meta. Don't worry about going over CDR cap, it doesn't really matter you mostly want to buff your team.
Will of the Ancient's - This item works very well in teamcomps with double AP, though you will find most of the time one of the AP's will get this item anyways. In double AP comps they will often go 2 WOTA's on each of them, so this item may be unnecessary. Just ask if you're not sure.
Items Other People Like but I Don't:
- Get this early game instead of Soul Shroud or Shurelya's if you are playing a normal game and are roflstomping some fools. Sona can rack up assists pretty easy. Just healing / speeding up an ally who gets a kill will give you an assist. I would never suggest this for serious games though.
- An optional starting route would be Sapphire Crystal > Catalyst > ROA but in my opinion this requires too much early game farm which you should give your carry. Still this is a nice item because it gives Sona everything she needs except CDR.
- An early Tear of the Goddess definitely helps with early game mana. The problem I have with this item is that most aura items don't have flat mana to utilize the passive, and without aura items Sona is not fulfilling her support role properly. Please if you get this at least combo it with Frozen Heart, Rod of Ages, or Banshee's Veil.
- You should only get this item if you're straight pwning the other team, and they aren't managing to kill any of your teammates. As I've mentioned before Sona's heal only has a .35 scaling with AP so when you get AP you're only going to see improvements on her offensive spells rather than her heal. That is why deathcap is not that good for her.
Alternative Item Routes
These are other builds I have seen used and be successful, or ideas for builds I've had but haven't tested thoroughly. My preferred build is still the top build, but you might want to try these builds out to see if one suits your fancy!
- - -
Merc Treads Route
Better survivability, a must against teams with ridiculous CC, or just a personal preference
Doran's Ring Stacking
Powerful early/mid game, slowly replace doran's rings, takes a lot longer to get strong items
Can transition into any build
Early Aegis Build
Big help in early game team fights, forsake CDR / mana regen so less ability to spam your spells
A build for strictly non-serious games. A good option if you like Sona but are low level / solo queuing in normals.
Gold Gen Build
Less farm dependence, good early game, takes longer to get strong items. EDIT: The gold gen on Philo stones no longer stack with eachother so not very viable anymore, but I'm going to keep this here anyways because I liked the idea! :D
Runes / Masteries
- You don't do squat for damage, so no reason to buff it with magic pen marks. This will let you be more offensive in lane because you can take more hits from their carry.
Greater Seal of Replenishment - These will help you stay in lane and keep up the harass. Sona is very mana hungry during / after teamfights.
- You will get a lot of CDR from your build, but not as much survivability. These runes make up for the lack of MR in the build so you don't get insta-killed by their ap carry. Get scaling because you will be bot lane and there's generally not much damage bot lane.
- Lets you be more of a presence early game. If people see a Sona with 4 bars of health in the lane they will be quick to focus her and try to nab first blood.
As you can see, my runes focus on early game advantage, which I feel like is very important for Sona. Her damage is pretty good early game, and these runes also give her the ability to sustain both herself and her teammate.
Haven't thoroughly tested yet but theoretically these seem best to me. I like the armor masteries in defense tree (you will be laning against a primarily AD damage dealer) and the hp also helps you be more of an asset to your team.
All of the masteries I took in the utility tree I felt like were requirements. Supports need mana regen, better wards, improved CV/Flash, gold gen, and experience.
6/5/2011 - Major update, changed Zhonya's / Rabadons into situational items and replaced with Aegis / Randuin's in main build. Updated Situational items and Intro to reflect this.
6/23/2011 - Switched merc treads to CDR boots and took soul shroud out of the main lineup.
11/2/2011 - Switched CDR glyphs for MR glyphs. Switched Mpen marks for armor marks.
11/16/2011 - Updated masteries to reflect masteries implemented this patch.
12/20/2011 - Changed out Abyssal Scepter for WOTA
Adonikam - Lots of feedback and support with fixing my build and helping me with ranked play.
SixSonatas - Helping fix my build / illuminating the difference between different supports, and what role Sona should fill (look at intro).