Not Updated For Current Season
Welcome to my Sona build. This is actually my first build attempt at mobafire (or any website for that matter), so go easy on me! I'm trying my hand at a Sona build for 2 reasons. First, I always enjoy being involved in the theory-craft aspect of any online game I play; and second, I finally consider myself familiar enough with LoL to at least participate in intelligent build discussion (though I am by no means an expert). I've got a Bachelor's Degree in both Magical Glass Cannon Studies and Support Class Systems Analysis. I am currently working on my masters in both, while also participating in an internship at the esteemed Meat Shield Academy for Squishy Noobs.
Since Phreak suggested Clairvoyance in his "Champion Spotlight" for Sona, you'll notice every single Sona has bowed to the LoL god and taken his advice. But it's with good reason. First, clairvoyance provides tremendous map control, which can prevent/initiate ganks before they would even otherwise occur. This can often make the quick ghost/flash escape unnecessary. The team who controls the map and jungle buffs often wins. Second, Sona doesn't depend on some of the other summoner abilities as much as other champions do. She's not going to flash in and surprise nuke/stun + ignite the hell out of an enemy. With her speed boost song, she can almost always outrun a chasing foe. She's a support champ who's free to take support summoner abilities.
Clarity and Heal are both great options. They make her better at what she already does well: support her team. Although neither is vital to keep herself alive or her own mana supply full. I particularly like clarity for a few reasons: 1) it makes her significantly more effective during early laning phases, 2) it removes the necessity of taking an additional mana regen item, 3) it helps your team push late game (you know, that phase where your team dances around the enemy's base for 5 minutes killing all enemies as they respawn--clarity allows you to keep doing that).
Ghost is an all-around great spell for any champion. Any combination of those 4 work well in my opinion.
Mp5/level seals are a no-brainer as mana is the primary limiting factor on Sona's staying power. Combined with a Meki Pendant and regen masteries, you should last fine early game without having to take the Clarity summoner ability. But clarity does help, and can improve her early game farming abilities.
Magic Pen. These only really affect your Q ability and your ultimate, but there simply aren't any super attractive marks for a support caster. Your total MPen from this build will include 20 from the Abyssal Scepter Aura, 8.55 from these marks, and 15% of whatever's left over from the Archaic Knowledge mastery. This should be enough to keep most non tanks at 0-50 MR (0-33% magical damage reduction), but most tanks will still be at 125-150 MR (55.5-60% magical damage reduction.) Either way, your Q ability is at its best early-mid game, as it does relatively higher damage then, and these Mpen marks will prove more significant at that stage of the game.
7 CDR/level and 2 AP/level. CDR is probably the single most important stat for Sona. She's like a group buffing Udyr. There's never a situation where it's not beneficial to be spamming an ability. The faster you can spam them, the better. However, 40% CDR is the hard cap, so with 9% from masteries and 25% from my item build, we only need 6% more from runes. If you anticipate being able to get the golem buff frequently, you can ignore CDR glyphs all together, although you'll suffer slightly early game. However, it's typically better to let someone else on your team get the golem buff (like amumu, kennan, annie etc.) especially if they aren't specced deep into the support mastery tree or if they do not plan on taking a CDR item (most heavy AP builds do not, unless they include a Deathfire Grasp). Don't hesitate to grab the Golem buff though if nobody else appears interested!
I favor taking a few ranks of Hymn of Valor early because it's actually a surprisingly strong offensive harassment tool early on. Later in the game, it's not nearly as effective, but can still usually help finish off a fleeing foe, particularly since you have a nice speed boost and Hymn has crazy far range (and amazingly doesn't require targeting!) Hymn of Valor has a 0.6 AP coefficient.
To me, Aria of Perseverance is Sona's bread and butter ability. With high CDR and AP, this ability can pump out more healing with less effort (no targeting lolz) and less stress on your mana pool than any other champion in the game. It also provides roughly 33% more statistical defense to your teammates than an Aegis. I want this maxxed out during all vital team fighting phases. (Aria of Perseverance has a 0.5 AP coefficient.)
Song of Celerity is not to be overlooked. Speed boosts are greatly important in many phases of the game. After recalling, it helps you get back out to the action more quickly = more gold, more exp. and more support for your team! It helps greatly in both individual and team chasing and escaping. For Sona individually, this ability merely helps counter her rather disappointingly low base movement speed.
Crescendo, like most Ults, should be maxed out every opportunity possible. Each rank reduces its cooldown (160/140/120 seconds), and increases the damage it does (150/250/350 +0.7 per AP).
Sona's passive is odd considering the rest of her play style. Power Chord- After casting 3 spells, Sona's next attack deals extra 24 (+12 per level) (240 @ level 18) magic damage. Additionally, Sona's Auras persist for 3 seconds after deactivating and set off a 2 second global cooldown. It's basically a built-in sheen-like proc that can essentially be executed once every 6 seconds. Personally, I think I'd prefer a passive that enhances her team support, further increasing what she's already good at. More on this passive later when I discuss Lichbane in the Items section.
Here's the deal. Sona wants every item in the game. Well not quite, but a great many items are fantastic for Sona. I suspect many Item builds will prove viable over time. It's difficult to narrow it down to just six, (and really fewer, since few games would last long enough to allow Sona, a relatively poor farmer, to acquire 6 items.)
Concerning gold accumulation, she isn't the strongest farmer. Most of her gold will be acquired through assists. You can also occasionally finish off a foe with your Q ability. (I typically end a game with 3-7 kills, and 15-25 assists.) Additionally, try to last hit 2 mobs simultaneously with Q. (Ie. If friendly minions are hitting a particular enemy minion, auto attack a minion closest to the one your minions are attacking, then fire Q once they are both low on health.)
First and foremost, Sona is a support character. That means she helps her team by either buffing her allies or debuffing/incapacitating her enemies, while doing relatively minor damage. Through items she can provide support in 2 ways: either by improving her key stats (CDR and AP) with the goal of enhancing her own support abilities, or by acquiring items that passively/actively provide a support aura (Ie. Aegis of the Legion). I focus on 2 items that vastly improve Sona's personal performance, and 3 items that give excellent support while continuing to bolster stats that are important to Sona. The 6th item is, of course, boots, which will vary based on enemy team comp. For teams that are split between physical and magical damage, and don't pose a particular stun/snare threat, I'd suggest trying Boots of Swiftness, since, as I said earlier, Sona suffers from a surprisingly low base movement speed.
**NOTE on Build Order** I always start with Archangel's Staff + boots. From there, the item build order should vary based on enemy composition and what your team needs more immediately. I am simply listing and explaining the items for this build, not suggesting an absolute order beyond Archangel's Staff + boots. That is a fluid process to be determined at your own discretion.
Self Boosting Items:
This item is OP for any caster. For a champion like Sona, who spams abilities like crazy, she will max out the mana gain from this staff/Tear of the Goddess very early, essentially providing over 1,400 mana. 25 mp/5 is also clutch. With this item alone (+runes and masteries), I find myself almost never going OOM. Clarity and an occasional stolen golem buff only ensures this. Oh, and this item will provide upwards of 120 AP, more with other mana providing items.
Another item with several desirable stats. 80 AP is great. 300 more mana (which = 9 more AP from Archangel's Staff). 7% movement speed helps Sona catch up to the rest. 30 MR makes her a little less squishy. And, of course, the proc. This item, combined with Sona's passive, can provide a quick 500-800 damage burst to actually contribute offensively! Basically, Sona isn't a strong offensive character at all, but by taking this one item, which has several stats that simultaneously greatly improve her support capabilities, she actually gains a statistically significant offensive ability, Auto Attack :p. It's almost like Sona's passive ability and stat requirements were designed around Lich Bane.
Aegis of the Legion-
Every 5s game needs someone with Aegis, and this item fits Sona as well or better than any other champion. It synergizes perfectly with her Hymn and Aria. Of course, if another player wants to grab, so be it :)
Continue to bolster your AP, while providing a significant MR reduction to the opposing team. In team fights, this removes a total of up to 100 MR from the opposing team, making your team's AoE (and your own Ult) all the more effective. Additionally, I've said she's squishy. I wasn't lying. Because you shouldn't be up in the front lines, Sona should not take the brunt of the damage, but I assure you opponents will try to focus you down at some point in mid-late game, whether by flanking you from behind, or charging straight through your teammates. You can expect SOME teamfight deaths; that is, unless you get some MR and armor. Enemies may try to focus on you several times before they realize it isn't working. When they finally do realize after they've gotten wiped out 2-3 times, the game has already swung in your favor. This plus the next item (Frozen Heart) can effectively make you a great baiting tool to entice the enemy team into initiating an unfavorable team fight.
Since this is another one of those items that one player on every 5s team should have, and since Sona could really use the other 2 stats it provides, she might as well be the one to pick it up :)
Frozen Heart OR Soul Shroud-
Frozen Heart if the opposing team has 2 or more serious physical threats. Soul Shroud if enemy damage is more mixed.
You might not find this one on many Sona builds that are currently out there. Aside from it being one of my favorite general items in the game, I think it actually fits Sona quite nicely. The 25% CDR is VITAL. 500 additional mana (15 ability power from Archangel's staff) is a plus. And, of course, its 20% enemy attack speed reduction support aura is very strong against heavy physical teams in team fights.
99 armor completely covers the physical damage aspect of the squishiness I discussed under the Abyssal Scepter section, except strong physical carries are even scarier once they get on Sona. By then, her heal and speed boost is often not enough. With FH, Ninja Tabi, and base armor, all incoming physical damage will be reduced by more than 66% (+ some dodges!). I've literally seen team fights completely change once I acquire this item against strong physical teams. Another reason I like Frozen Heart is because its key component, Glacial Shroud, can be purchased rather early and is very good by itself.
If you're really not concerned about your opponents' physical carries, Soul Shroud makes for a fine CDR item (although it probably won't bring you to cap, unless you go for more CDR glyphs and Quints). It offers health in lieu of armor, and another significantly important support aura (15% CDR for everyone). Good alternatives are Deathfire Grasp and the new Shurelya's Reverie.
*My current match history at the time of this build's writing. I haven't been taking screen shots of them, so more aren't available. I'll add more as I continue to play. Ignore the practice games :p
Summary of Items:
The goals were many: significantly boost Sona's personal abilities, increase Sona's staying power to the point where it is limitless, passively provide several important buffs/debuffs, increase Sona's survivability somewhat. Sona is not a tank. The goal of taking a couple defensive items is not to allow her to tank, but rather to enable her to escape death when she is suddenly focused on in team fights, allowing her to continue to support her teammates. Frozen Heart and Abyssal Scepter provide all necessary defenses while simultaneously providing 2 powerful support auras and key stats that improve Sona's personal abilities.
As previously stated, there are literally dozens of other attractive items for Sona (Rylai's Crystal Scepter, Innervating Locket, Zhonya's Ring, Soul Shroud, Shurelya's Reverie, Rod of Ages, Mejai's Soulstealer, just to name a few).
In fact, I almost always end up swapping at least one item from this build in favor of a Rylai's, Zhonya's, or Innervating locket based on the enemy team's composition and what my teammates are building. As most experienced players know by now, the item build is a fluid, reactive process that varies from game to game. It's never set in stone. This is just one combination of items that I deem particularly strong for almost any situation. It offers surprising prowess in several areas (heals, support auras, offense, and survivability) without really gimping her overall support at all.
Finally, if you managed to read this far, you have my sincere thanks! If you have anything at all to add/discuss, please provide feedback. I welcome and encourage discussion :)