Botlane Support Soraka
Not Updated For Current Season
"Twinkle, twinkle, little star - do you wonder what you are?"
- Aurelion Sol
You probably do not know my name - mostly because this was my very first guide on MobaFire. In fact, I only registered to write down some information about the new Starchild - and since she experienced some significant changes over the past few months, it is finally time to update this guide. Feel free to leave comments, hints and tips in the comment section!
I joined League of Legends around early 2012 and played it regularly ever since. Considering that I am very much into healers, be it in MMOs, RPGs or P&P games, Soraka was one of the very first champions I picked up - and my main ever since.
When I heard that Riot planned a Soraka rework I was quite worried. Even more so because Karma came to mind - another favorite of mine I rarely played after being reworked. As it turned out, the rework wasn't enough - patch 6.5 has brought some significant changes. So join me to explore the power of the Starchild!
What has changed?
So what are the big changes as of patch 6.5?
Starcall does no longer have a sweet-spot in the center that deals extra damage and the slow effect is now applied by simply hitting an enemy. The area of effect was also shrunk in size, making it a bit harder (and more dangerous) to score hits at longer range. In return, Starcall received a significant reduction to both mana cost (40, down from 50-70) and cooldown (5, down from 7-5).
Astral Infusion lost a significant amount of healing power (40 HP at all levels, to be exact). Instead of instantly healing Soraka for each enemy hit with her Starcall, she now receives a 4 second healing-over-time effect called "Alignment" that restores some HP and grants a 15% movement speed bonus while active and not facing towards a nearby enemy champion.
It is important to note that Alignment does NOT increase in power by hitting multiple enemies, so there is no healing related incentive to hit more than one enemy champion with Starcall anymore. In addition to that, any ally healed while under the effect of "Alignment" will also become aligned for 3-5 seconds (scaling with Starcall's level). Lastely, the ability can no longer be used on minions.
Salvation, Equinox and Wish remain unchanged.
In short the results of the 6.5 Soraka changes are:
(1) A lot of Soraka's healing power has been shifted from instant effects to healing-over-time. This makes countering burst damage a lot harder.
(2) Her healing abilities are tied even more closely to her Starcall. Hitting an enemy with Q to gain alignment is vital to generate decent healing output.
(3) Her mid and late game sustain has dropped significantly. If you want numbers, it should (on average) be between 50-75% lower during the mid and late game.
(4) Her poking and kiting ability has increases, making top (and even midlane?) Soraka potentially viable.
Pros / Cons
+ Strong healing throughput
+ Global heal ultimate
+ AOE silence/root
+ Great at poking and kiting
- Squishy and usually damaged from healing others
- Low mobility without "Alignment"
- Weak against burst damage
- Priority target
Soraka is a pretty unique champion, mainly because her Astral Infusion costs % MAX HP without actually getting any benefits from increasing the cost. This causes an odd dilemma where getting HP without HP5 or AP will weaken Sorakas's sustain - and, given enough heals on allies, even weaken her survivability. With that in mind the most important stats for her are:
All of Soraka's abilities scale with AP. While the extra damage is nice, the improved heal from Astral Infusion and the stronger "Alignment" effect are absolutely critical. Soraka needs AP to counter her fall-off from ever increasing allied HP bars and enemy damage numbers at later stages of the game. It is important to note that each "Alignment" tick benefits from the 0.1 AP scaling, so the total AP scaling is 40% for her self-heal and 30-50% for aligned allies.
Apart from obviously reducing the cooldown for all her skills, Soraka will signficantly increase her healing reliability by being able to land more Starcalls on enemies. The reduced cooldown on Astral Infusion will also be vital to counter enemy burst damage or DOT abilities (being able to save an ally caught in Malzahar's Nether Grasp is pretty nice!)
While AP and CDR promote an active play style, HP5 will make sure that Soraka can heal herself while no enemies are around (or if she cannot land Starcall for whatever reason). HP5 tend to be pretty powerful during the early game, but fall off later since the increase of HP is usually bigger than the increase of HP5. In Soraka's case, HP5 items are particularly bad because she has the lowest HP5 base and per-level-gain ratio in the game. So every extra HP5 you can get outside of items (Runes, Masteries) is quite useful.
Soraka doesn't like pure HP stuff all that much. Since Astral Infusion has a fixed % MAX HP cost, she needs either HP5 or AP on an item to make extra HP viable. That is, if she survives long enough. In general she has to heal 10 times to break even on current HP. If she dies before that happens, or if she can regenerate back to max HP inbetween her heals, getting more HP becomes less of an issue. So while it is usually a much weaker stat on her compared to other champions (one could say she has an anti-HP synergy), it is still be necessary - especially since Warmog's Armor feels like an essential late game item on her.
With the changes made to Starcall, Soraka requires surprisingly little mana. Combined with a high MP5 base ratio and the "Mediation" mastery, it is actually possible to rely on a single mana regenerating item throughout the whole game.
Armor and MR
These are, in general, a secondary choice for Soraka to achieve survivability. However, getting AR and MR is usually costly and will come at the expense of other stats, so it's often better to grab Warmog's Armor instead.
Flash is a no brainer, even more so when considering that Soraka has low mobility and no powerful tools to close gaps or escape.
Exhaust is the strong and common go-to choice. You can use it offensively or defensively and it is never a bad idea to keep it at hand. It makes your carry happy.
Heal is a defensive option that will be useful because Soraka hurts herself when she heals her allies. The speedburst is also nice to help a friend escape from tight situations. Lastely, when timing it with her R she can make use of the full healing even against enemies that apply Grievous Wounds.
Teleport is a strategic choice. It means you will be at a tactical disadvantage, but Soraka is probably one of the best champions to make use of the strategic aspects. It gives you a lot of leeway to use your heal, because you can just recall and quickly enter the fight again. You can also use teleport to assist a pressured lane, using your passive to sprint towards an ally in need and provide emergency assistance.
Ignite is a quite offensive and anti-heal focused spell. Good against a champion that uses self-heal effects, but think carefully if it's worth giving up the other options for that.
The selection of your summoner spells is more or less personal preference. As for me, I have found a lot of potential in Teleport and Flash, but your mileage may vary.
Greater Quintessence of Health Regeneration is an option that will help you mitigate the %HP cost of Astral Infusion and enemy harass during the early game.
Other good choices are:
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power to get an early boost to your (self)healing and damage
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed to offset her low base MS
Greater Quintessence of Gold to get some extra cash
A common option I'd strongly advise against is greater Greater Quintessence of Health - due to the %HP cost on Soraka's heal it can do more harm than good.
Greater Seal of Scaling Health Regeneration is used to counter the diminishing regeneration of Soraka's HP5 and provide early and mid game sustain. If that is too fancy for you:
Greater Seal of Armor is the more traditional choice
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist offers early game protection against spell damage and is a common choice.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist sacrifices some early game protection for higher stats later on. I like to mix the two, but you probably know what is better for you.
Greater Mark of Ability Power to gain a minor boost to your (self-)healing
Greater Mark of Armor or Greater Mark of Magic Resist if you feel to squishy
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration if you want to boost your spell damage
Greater Mark of Hybrid Penetration for enhancing your auto attack AND spell damage
and Perseverance are useful to enhance your passive regeneration and thus reduce the time you need to compensate for healing.
Tough Skin provides some extra protection against enemy attacks.
Intelligence provides some extra CDR, which is always nice.
Wanderer and Explorer give you some much needed movement speed.
Bandit increases your gold income.
Meditation provides significant extra regeneration and makes a bigger mana pool more attractive.
Windspeaker's Blessing is a no-brainer for supports and synergizes very well with Wish on Soraka.
Veteran Scars is avoided because you don't want an HP bonus without HP5 or AP attached to it.
The first big decision each Soraka player has to face is the gold item:
Ancient Coin provides a bit of MP5 and a decent self-heal for each dying enemy minion. It's an okay choice for a more defensive/passive oriented strategy.
Spellthief's Edge offers AP, MP5 and a passive that grants extra gold and damage. It is the better choice for an offensive/poke oriented strategy.
My usual starting items consist of:
Health Potion x3
This combination provides some sustain for the early game and allows you to poke right away for extra cash.
Frostfang is an amazing item on Soraka. The +100% mana regeneration in combination with her high base MP5 provides plenty of mana without having to buy any other item. It also allows to constantly harass the enemy with Starcall and Equinox.
Doran's Shield is a great item to counter enemy pressure. Due to its HP to HP5 ratio it does actually reduce the compensation time for heals and the passive provides some decent protection against champion attacks. The extra HP is useful later on to reach the required 3000 HP mark for Warmog's Armor a bit earlier.
Rejuvenation Bead is okay early on if you can't buy anything else. They are equal to ~1.5 to ~1 free heals per minute - not too shabby for the low price tag, even if you don't plan on buying Warmogs later on.
Boots of Speed are mandatory, even more so if you have such a low base MS like Soraka. The more interesting question is about what upgrade you should choose:
Ionian Boots of Lucidity offer some much needed CDR. Without them you will lack quite a bit of CDR. I prefer to slap a Captain's enchantment on them later on.
Boots of Swiftness provide a lot of MS and reduce the impact of slows a bit.
Boots of Mobility are good if you roam quite a lot. Considering that Soraka is very squishy reducing the time exposed while warding or repositioning isn't bad, but if you ever get caught their low base MS bonus will mean you are done for.
Sightstone is obviously needed on a support. However, the twist with this item is that Soraka reduces her sustain by getting it. Those extra HP increase her heal cost quite a bit and will actually hurt your durability if you heal a lot. I always cringe about Astral Infusion's design when I get this item, but thankfully the extra HP are useful later on to get make Warmog's Armor work.
Remember to replace your Warding Totem with Sweeping Lens or Farsight Alteration once you have bought your Sightstone.
Rod of Ages gives Soraka everything she could wish for: Scaling extra HP that are very useful for a later Warmog's Armor, a solid bonus to her mana pool (that synergizes very well with Meditation ) and enough AP to not only offset the extra HP cost for your heal, but also significantly boost your healing power.
Warmog's Armor is truly horrible on Soraka before she can activate the passive. It offers a lot of HP, but she pays a hefty "85 extra HP per heal" price for that. However, given that her self-heal from "Alignment" is a LOT weaker with 6.5, Warmogs is (in my eyes) the only option that allows Soraka to stay viable during the later stage of the game. Just make sure you only get it when you can actually meet the 3000 HP requirement.
Luden's Echo is great for poking with Starcall. On top of the powerful passive you get a ton of AP and a MS effect equal to another pair of (basic) boots. Not too shabby.
Liandry's Torment does not have enough AP to offset the extra HP cost. However, once you have Warmog's Armor, that is no longer an issue. The burn effect is very potent in combination with Starcall. A great late game option against an enemy team with big HP bars.
Rabadon's Deathcap does only offer AP, but it is quite good at that. If you don't have to worry about your personal safety or love high-risk, high-reward gameplay, this item is a good choice.
Ardent Censer offers a solid stat composition. If your team can benefit from the attack speed buff you might want to grab it. Surprisingly good for solo lane Soraka as well.
Zhonya's Hourglass provides some armor against AD and a lot of AP to improve your damage, healing and self-healing. The passive can be invaluable - if you know how to use it.
Lich Bane is probably okay if you are on a solo lane, but that is not what this guide is about.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter offers some HP and AP to offset the increased healing cost somewhat. The slow is, however, not really needed since Starcall is already very potent.
Wish > Astral Infusion = Starcall > Equinox
Wish is your most powerful ability and should be levelled whenever possible.
Astral Infusion provides a signficant healing bonus. Quite useful to have if you cannot reliably land your Q to empower heals on your allies.
Starcall provides better self-heal and stronger healing on allies while under the effect of "Alignment". The slow does also become significantly more powerful.
Equinox receives increased damage and root time, but neither is critical enough to sacrifice your heal or sustain for it. Max it last.
I feel the priority between Astral Infusion and Starcall depends a lot on your matchup and personal preference. Astral Infusion is better for early game healing, while Starcall is better during the mid game (and obviously increases your damage).
Right now I usually wait with my level 1 skill selection and then alternate between the two instead of maxing one first.
Spells & Abilities
The following paragraph will give you some insights about using Soraka's abilities - and some nifty tricks you can pull off with them.
-> Grants a lot of MS, but remember that it has diminishing returns, so building Boots of Mobility might actually not be the most efficient choice for Soraka.
-> The passive takes a moment to trigger and stop, so you can cut very small corners without losing the movement speed. Running through the jungle with it will, however, often result in constant on/off toggles.
-> While the main use of your passive is to bring you into the fray, you can also use it to disengage if you coordinate with your team. All you need is a damaged ally to Flash, jump or dash behind you and run away - the Banambulance can follow at max speed.
-> Your passive has a minimum range and will stop working once you are within heal distance of your target.
-> The travel time for the star depends on cast distance. This is pretty unique and unusual, but remember that your enemies will have the same problem. Enemies that come close to you might not expect the much faster drop. In return the slow drop at max range can allow you to safely poke enemies near their tower.
-> Despite the high angle of attack your star counts as a projectile - and can thus be blocked by Yasuo and his Wind Wall.
-> The "Alignment" buff from a successful hit has a travel time. Take this into consideration and don't cast your W instantly after hitting an enemy. You can move towards or away from Q's landing zone to influence the delay a bit.
-> As with many AOE skillshots, the cast range indicator only shows the max range for the central point of the ability, making it possible to hit targets that stand quite a bit behind the indicated max range.
-> Starcall can be used in two different ways: As a slow or as sustain. Out of range for a heal? Sometimes slowing the enemy chasing your ally is good enough to save the day.
-> Astral infusion costs 10% MAX HP, but the effect does not scale with your HP at all. So building pure HP items on Soraka is not a good idea if you plan on using your heal often.
-> Using your heal while between 5% and 10% HP will not kill yourself, you will drop to 1HP instead. Just make sure that you don't have a caster minion projectile flying your way...
-> Use your heal liberally while you are near or at max HP. If you are damaged your HP5 regeneration will kick in - and it should be much faster than that of your ally.
-> Your heal does no longer work on minions. Alas, poor fellas - we knew you!
-> If you are using teleport you can invest all your HP to patch up allies, recall and teleport back into the fight. Once the homeguard effect is active that can allow for a surprise regeneration encounters.
-> It might be a good idea to keep an ally below 40% HP to get that extra MS from your passive or to get that extra heal from your ultimate.
-> Equinox can be used to either silence or snare the enemy. When used as a silence try to place it in a way that makes it hard for the enemy to get out. If you use it as a snare remember that it takes quite some time for the root to trigger. Fast MS champions might even pass through the zone unharmed!
-> This skill works best as a followup to an allied stun, snare or slow effect. Place it after an enemy is caught and you can initate a pretty hefty CC chain. Use Starcall shortly before the root goes off to add a slow on top of that.
-> Your silence will interrupt channel abilities, but it cannot stop abilities that are already active, such as a successfully channeled Crowstorm from Fiddlesticks or an activated Shield of Daybreak from Leona.
-> Cleanse does not work against your silence (because it is simply re-applied instantly). Immunity to disables, such as Morgana's Black Shield or Olaf's Ragnarok will negate the silence, though.
-> There is a very brief delay between the casting animation and the actual AOE silence effect. So an enemy can actually try to flash out of the zone or cast a last spell before actually being silent.
-> The buff is triggered even if Starcall's spell effect is negated by things like Banshee's Veil or Morgana's Black Shield.
-> Alignment is triggered by any champion related clone or special state, inlcuding a Shaco clone, an Aviana's egg or a soul ripped out by Illaoi.
-> Depending on your CDR and your Starcall and Astral Infusion levels, you can actually heal multiple heroes while aligned.
-> The buff will NOT be transferred to your allies when casting Wish.
-> It does NOT stack when hitting more than one enemy. Landing another Starcall while being aligned will just refresh the duration.
-> Unlike the description, the movement speed bonus from alignment does actually work while moving towards enemies. It will only be supressed once you are close enough and facing them.
-> Skill order: Wish > Astral Infusion = Starcall > Equinox
-> HP5 > AP during the early game, AP > HP5 during the later game
-> Only build HP without HP5 or AP if you die or recall very fast (less than 10 heals per life) or if you need more HP to activate Warmog's Armor
-> Frostfang is (imho) the better gold item on Soraka
-> Do not follow this guide blindly, adjust it to your play style.
That is all for now! Have fun playing the new Soraka - and may the stars guide your way!