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Karma Build Guide by Sarixis

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Sarixis

The Mantra of Karma, In-Depth Solo Lane

Sarixis Last updated on November 16, 2016
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Ability Sequence

1
4
5
7
9
Ability Key Q
3
14
15
17
18
Ability Key W
2
8
10
12
13
Ability Key E
6
11
16
Ability Key R

Masteries

Fury
 
 
5/
Sorcery
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vampirism
 
 
5/
Natural Talent
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Battering Blows
 
 
Piercing Thoughts
 
 
 
 

Offense: 12

Wanderer
 
 
5/
Savagery
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5/
Merciless
 
 
Meditation
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5/
Precision
 
 
Intelligence
 
 
 
 

Defense: 18

Recovery
 
 
Unyielding
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Runic Armor
 
 
Veteran's Scars
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Swiftness
 
 
Legendary Guardian
 
 
 
 

Utility: 0



Threats to Karma with this build

Threat
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Threat Champion Notes
1
Karthus He will just farm lane so bully him from a distance. NEVER approach him for the kill, good Karthus players always have Exhaust and know they're at their most dangerous if approached. If you do make this mistake, he will super slow you with his wall and Exhaust and sustain damage you to death. Overall just stay at your typical range and bully him when he tries to last hit, don't be surprised if he hangs far back though.



Greetings!


Welcome to my first guide! And what better way to start off my guide than with my favorite League of Legends Champion: Karma: The Enlightened One

If you want to learn more about Karma and make others say "Karma OP" Then read on! Warning: This is a very In-Depth Guide using data collected from hundreds of games and it will take time to absorb all of the information. Please feel free to leave me any comments or concerns though so I can address them appropriately. :D

About the Author


Karma was the third champion I ever owned on a recommendation from a friend back when I was still learning the game. Keep in mind this was in 2012 back when she was old Karma and quite frankly, bad. However after her rework I completely fell in love with her hyper versatile kit that made her an excellent counter pick in the assassin heavy meta of S3 despite many not believing in her power.

Hopefully I can help you understand her true power and why she's a great champion.




Overall Playstyle: Balanced (can be aggressive or defensive), Baiting, Poke, Utility

Pros/Strengths:

+ Overall well-rounded
+ Incredible early game
+ Great scaling and AP ratios
+ Strong baiting
+ Kiting Queen
+ Hard to kill overall
+ Versatile build paths
Overall: Karma has one of the strongest early games thanks to having Soulflare at level 1 and will scale to do roughly the damage of a Final Spark followed up by Stranglethorns on the second hit late game. She’s a very good counterpick against the majority of assassins by turning their gap closers against them and being an exceptional duelist.

Safe Utility Mage Pick: As a solo laner Karma is a very safe pick with a kit that lets her be a huge lane bully with great base damage who transistions into a more supportive mage as the game goes on. She has few truly bad matchups especially in the mid lane and the ones that are not in her favor she can still manage with her strong defensive tools to survive. Karma can also escape ganks without using Flash most of the time because of how much kiting power her kit contains. This also lets her constantly keep her lane opponent pushed in as long as there are wards so she can avoid ganks in time.



Cons/Weaknesses:

- Heavily CDR Reliant
- Lacks a true ultimate
- Only 1 consistent damage ability
- Difficulty hitting the back line
- Damage falls off
- Limited Crowd Control
- Requires good decision making with Mantra
No True Ultimate: The biggest downside to Karma is she doesn’t have a true ultimate, while Mantra abilities are strong they don't give the same power spike as an ultimate. You don't always need max CDR but you need at least 35% to get Mantra on a low enough cooldown. Being able to constantly cycle abilities between Mantra uses is huge for recharging the cooldown which means that not having enough CDR seriously gimps Karma's ability to function.

Unreliable Damage: With the current tank meta, it's pretty difficult for Karma to land Soulflare on the enemy team's squishy carries. This makes things difficult late game when she can't reliably damage priority targets. Because Focused Resolve becomes very unreliable at this point, Karma typically has to rely on baiting or great sniping to kill. Because her damage is focused into 1 ability, any MR the enemy team buys very easily makes both weaker even with a Void Staff. Often it will be easier to just use Defiance at the beginning of fights and try to finish someone off once Mantra refreshes.





This is better now that it scales but still is a lackluster passive compared to most champions. Using this to your advantage is key to maximizing your damage and getting Mantra online again ASAP. Learn to use a mix of abilities and auto attacks in lane similar to Orianna to bully your opponent and reduce the cooldown of Mantra as much as possible. A single spell and 2 auto attacks after Level 13 will shave 6 seconds off of Mantra which is incredibly important.



An AoE poke/slow/nuke and your main source of damage. This is your bread and butter skill for harass, zoning, kiting, damage, wave clear, bush checking, etc. Use in moderation to keep from pushing lane too much and draining your mana pool unless you want to attract ganks. The best way to hit opponents with this is to take advantage of the AoE and hit a minion next to them. If they're close enough behind a minion, the AoE can hit them too.



Karma's main CC tool and an okay one at that. If it stays tethered for 2 seconds to the target enemy champion it will root, not stun, them in place. This ability also gives true sight while connected which is great against stealth champions. If your lane opponent is hiding behind minions then you can use this to pressure them from behind your own minions since it's great for potentially forcing a Flash or long cooldown escape option. This ability is also is important for escaping ganks and disengaging by tagging one of your 2 assailants as you shield away and kite.

Against Akali you pretty much have to follow her into the Twilight Shroud to make sure you maintain the true sight it gives. One quirk of this ability is that it's like Nami's Aqua Prison in that even if you max it second it still does barely noticeable damage despite the base damage and AP ratio. This is another reason to max it last.



A very handy shield that grants a burst of movement speed short enough that it's practically a dash. It will save lives, give mobility and escape options, enable chasing, improve initiations, etc. This ability rounds out Karma's high versatility and utility. In duels it will let you mitigate the damage you take while sticking close to your tethered target or help you kite and escape. As the game goes on this will scale to be a stronger Barrier which will make you very difficult to kill. In teamfights, combined with Inner Flame and Focused Resolve allows you protect teammates who might get dived on.



The defining ability that makes Karma extremely unique. Automatically gained at level 1, she naturally has a strong early game with access to a regular ability and its ultmate-esque form. Being able to use the right empowerment for the current situation and reducing its cooldown consistently will define your ability to play Karma.



Empowered Abilities


Note: All of Karma's empowered abilities grant bonus effects and typically bonus AP ratios that scale with Mantra's rank.

This is your primary burst damage ability. The bonus damage and AP ratio on this ability scale rapidly and the fact it will reduce Mantra's cooldown for every enemy champion it hits only makes it better along with the slow being twice as strong. Because it has such strong scaling on just the first hit the ability is lethal sniping tool on a carry at half health. Don't be surprised if enemies escape the 2nd blast since a 50% slow isn't that strong though if you follow up hard CC you get a nice wombo combo. This ability is fantastic for wave clear mid to late game if you have a lane getting pushed in or you're trying to shove.



The reverse initiation and anti-trading ability that assassins will despise you for. On initial cast, it heals Karma for 20% of her missing health and heals her again at the end of the 2 seconds for another 20% of her missing health. Combined with Inspire you can mitigate a lot of damage in duels and come out on top.

Tank Karma gets the most use out of this ability for ridiculous survivability. As a mid laner it's mostly used for baiting or helping ensure you survive bad situations. Overall this is a very defensive ability that will be used for survival above all else.



Your team will love this ability since it's Sivir's On The Hunt fused with a super Barrier for your team. Use this for powerful initiation follow ups or a quick disengage for your team that shields everyone within 800 range of the original target for half the amount. If you can't get a clean shot at the carries then fall back on this to better your team's chances of surviving the fight.

As a mid laner the shield will becomes gigantic with its 110% AP Ratio, shielding the main target for over 1000 damage most likely and the rest of the team for half of that late game. That big of a shield can effectively negate an AoE ult in damage!




The nature of Karma's kit gives her very cyclical spell rotations that repeat easily rather than having to wait for multiple cooldowns to come back up. This gives her many combos to work with and never has a dull moment in the heat of battle.

For clarity's sake, I'll be using Long Sword to indicate auto attacks. This is important because good Karma players will weave auto attacks in between spells to maximize reducing the cooldown of Mantra.


> >

Basic harass combo in lane as Karma that will do plenty of damage to your opponent. Focused Resolve can be used instead if they're hiding behind minions so long as you don't put yourself at risk.



> / > / >

Your typical Karma combo for chasing or kiting. Choosing between Focused Resolve or Inspire for the initial follow up is based on your positioning. Mantra can be used for offense or defense with this combo based on your situation. You'll likely be able to throw another Inner Flame out at the end of this combo.



/ > > > /

Your main anti-engage/assassin combo. Depending on who goes in and your current health choose between Renewal for survival or Soulflare for damage if you know you'll survive. Be sure to move away from them while doing this combo as Karma loves to kite.



> > >

Your primary getaway combo to best ensure your survive, skip the auto attack if low on health.



> / > / >

Your primary mid to late game carry kill combo. Aim carefully because Soulflare will take 50-70% of their health if your an AP carry and let you or your team quickly finish them off.



> / > /

The team protection/followup combo. Stick defiance on your team then focus on pinning down the biggest threat you can. Late game you should be able to have refreshed Mantra again and can possibly follow up with a Soulflare.

These are just Karma's most common combos and can have a lot more technical depending on how well you can weave AAs in between spells.



> > > > >

An extended version of the previous combo where you protect your team and hit who you can to refresh Mantra as fast as possible so you can use it again. The second Mantra should be used appropriately based on the situation.



How you use Mantra will make or break your Karma gameplay. A common mistake among players is to focus on just trying to line up the perfect shot for Soulflare while your team takes a lot of damage that could be prevented. There are times when Renewal and Defiance are better options since this is a team game, and Karma excels with good teamwork.

Each empowered ability has a list of situations for when they’re best used.

Soulflare is used with offense in mind. It packs a lot of burst and a good-sized AoE so it has flexible usability. Don’t just focus on using this in team fights though since if tanks are in the way you’ll just waste your biggest source of damage.
    - An enemy squishy is alone, within range, and wide open
    - The enemy front line is too busy trying to dive your ADC and their carries open
    - Any enemy champion is very low
    - Your team just initiated a fight (great follow up to land both hits)
    - The enemy team is tightly clumped together
    - Trying to take control of lane early game
    - Power waveclear
    - Sieging a tower
    - Quickly taking/stealing Dragon or Baron (with good aim)


Renewal is the counterpart to Soulflare in that it’s used in defensive situations. It’s great for giving yourself a clutch heal when being dove on or trying to outlast your dueling opponent.
    - You got dove on but haven’t been hit with hard CC
    - An assassin is starting to use their combo on you
    - You’re dueling someone with good burst
    - Baiting then turning
    - Escaping/Kiting
    - Healing off the jungle after a team fight
    - Trying to survive a tight team fight


Defiance is the most utility-oriented empowerment, with both offensive and defensive purposes. Being able to negate a lot of damage and give your entire team 60% bonus movement speed has a lot of nice uses.
    - Following up an initiation
    - Your team got initiated on
    - Trying to protect your team from an AoE ultimate
    - Protecting your team in general
    - Disengaging
    - Chasing
    - Tower diving as a team
    - Buying a pinch more time to finish off a tower
    - Reducing the damage your team takes while taking Dragon/Baron



> > >

As Karma you always want to start with Inner Flame first, because it is your main poke and harass tool and it allows you to have an offensive or defensive presence. With Mantra already available, you have access to Karma’s most damaging ability, Soulflare.

Inspire should be taken after since you'll do enough damage with Inner Flame early on to not need Focused Resolve. Always max Inspire second since it's vastly more consistent than Focused Resolve despite doing no damage and lets you survive tough situations.

All of Karma’s empowered abilities scale off of Mantra’s rank so it’s critical that you level it up when available. At level 9 you should already be starting to peak as Inner Flame will be maxed out at this point.




Runes are huge part of pre-game optimization to allow your champion to function at their best by enhancing strengths, helping mitigate any weaknesses, or improving their overall scaling.

One thing to keep in mind about runes is that it’s recommended to have multiple pages per role especially for AP champions who have to adapt to a variety of situations. Things like flat MR glyphs are pretty useless against champions like Riven and Zed where at other times I might need a pinch of extra mana regen to deal with a Malzahar and his ability to auto-push.

I'm aware I have the luxury of multiple rune pages so I will keep that in mind. The following are the common runes you will use on Karma with the rune page set ups after that.



Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: The go-to marks for AP champions in general to improve their magic damage. If you can't afford the steep cost for hybrid penetration then these are perfectly fine. In mid lane or against another ranged champion in general I find these preferable since you won’t be able to free hit them with basic attacks. Which marks you take is mostly preference however.

Greater Seal of Scaling Health: The most commonly taken seals by solo lane mages and Karma isn't an exception. With 9 of these seals you’re gaining an extra 12 health per level which is great when paired with Karma’s deceptive tankiness. This makes them incredibly cost efficient.

Greater Seal of Armor: These are taken vs. an AD mid laner like Talon, Yasuo, or Zed to reduce the amount of damage they can do to you in lane. If you can't afford scaling health yet then just running 9 of these is fine on the standard page. I personally run a mix so I have the scaling health to deal with Ignite damage.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction: The go-to glyphs on Karma since she loves CDR and needs to hit over 30% to function optimally. Truth be told you don't need max CDR to make Karma effective, 35% with these glyphs and Athene's/Morello will be more than enough.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power: Against an AD mid laner you only need 6 scaling CDR glyphs on average since you're inclined to buy Zhonya's Hourglass which gives 10% CDR. With 6 glyphs you will easily cap so might as well optimize our runes to get a little more AP.

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power: Flat AP is a natural choice for AP champions like Karma to give her abilities a bit more sting early on. Karma highly benefits from these given her solid AP ratios regardless of the role she's in.



Standard Runes

Runes

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
9

Greater Seal of Scaling Health
9

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
3

Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction
6

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
3

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration x 9 =1845
Greater Seal of Scaling Health x 9 = 3690
Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction x 9 = 3690
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power x 3 = 1536

Vs. Poke
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist x 3 = 306

Vs. AD
Greater Seal of Armor x 4 = 408
Greater Seal of Scaling Health x 5 = 2050
Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power x 3 = 1230
Total IP: 10761 / 9837 / 9529

A pretty simple rune page. You get everything you need for laning phase and to scale into an effective team fighter. I personally like the 3 glyphs of flat MR to be a pinch more resistant to poke but scaling AP is completely acceptable too. Be sure to swap out at least 4 scaling health seals for flat armor against AD laners. You're guaranteed to hit 30% CDR with Athene's Unholy Grail (or Morellonomicon when needed) and it's very easy to reach the cap with your situational options.



Capped CDR Runes

Runes

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
9

Greater Seal of Scaling Health
9

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power
9

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
3

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration x 9 =1845
Greater Seal of Scaling Health x 9 = 3690
Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power x 9 = 3690
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power x 3 = 1536

Vs. AD
Greater Seal of Armor x 4 = 408
Greater Seal of Scaling Health x 5 = 2050
Total IP: 10761 / 9529

When I say capped CDR, I mean that you will reach the cap with items alone. For example if you have Athene's Unholy Grail, Ionian Boots of Lucidity, and any of the situational items that also grant CDR then there's no reason to take scaling CDR glyphs. Instead you're better off with scaling AP to make up the smaller amounts of AP you'll get from the CDR items.



Magic Resist

Runes

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
9

Greater Seal of Scaling Health
9

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
9

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
3


Greater Mark of Magic Penetration x 9 =1845
Greater Seal of Scaling Health x 9 = 3690
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist x 9 = 918
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power x 3 = 1536
Total IP: 7989

By far the cheapest of all the listed rune page and a common starter rune page for many players. I will take this rune page into matchups like Annie, LeBlanc, and Veigar where I find the MR very useful and will be buying Abyssal Scepter for more MR and to help cap my CDR.




Like Runes, Masteries are important for pre-game optimization to enhance your champion’s strengths and help mitigate any weaknesses. Typically mastery pages are less variable compared to rune pages since it’s mostly specing a couple of points differently.

With Season 6 Masteries I typically take 12/18 in Ferocity/Cunning since Karma really benefits from the Cunning Tree. Specking for the inverse to get Deathfire Touch works too for a more poke focused build.

Ferocity Tree


Sorcery : A pretty simple choice that you should be taking as a mage. 2% increased spell damage complements Karma’s high base damage and improves her overall damage output.

Feast vs. Expose Weakness : Feast is great for sustaining but I'm finding myself starting to like Exposed Weakness since Karma is at her best working with teammates and she can constantly give them the 3% damage boost with Inner Flame's short cooldown.

Vampirism vs. Natural Talent : Vampirism isn't terrible on Karma and actually gives a nice amount of consistent sustain while you last hit. The spell vamp is pretty bad on her but the life steal is handy since you want to use auto attacks when possible. Natural Talent gives some extra damage and makes your auto attacks hurt more too if you chose to run greater mark of hybrid penetration along with it.

Bounty Hunter vs. Oppressor : Oppressor is better early game but the damage bonus from Bounty Hunter scales up to 5% which is twice the value. The mastery sounds like it’s designed for snowball champions but as a solo laner you should be doing a lot of damage to help your team and likely will get a high kill count. Overall it’s close but Oppressor wins because it's consistent.

Piercing Thoughts : I wanted to run Battering Blows but I was told this is better. Just kidding, as an AP champion you should run this mastery if you're going deep into Ferocity like I sometimes do. The extra % magic penetration is good to have especially in a meta that favors tanks like right now. With a Void Staff you'll get a total of 40% magic penetration (multiplicative stacking).

Deathfire Touch : Despite Riot loving to nerf this mastery I find it's not terrible on Karma. It makes your poke sting quite a bit and is more useful in team fights since it will be harder to proc Thunderlord's Decree as you have to position further back as the game goes on. It reaches peak effectiveness when you buy a Liandry's Torment for double the burn effects.



Cunning Tree


Wanderer vs. Savagery : This is mostly preference since Savagery is great if you want to farm more easily. I personally find the movement speed more valuable as a mid laner where you want to roam when the opportunities present themselves. As a top laner Savagery is much better since it’s essentially an island and you’re unlikely to roam.

Secret Stash vs. Assassin : Karma is actually pretty good with Assassin since she has a great early game and solid damage in lane. Secret Stash is great for extra sustain if you don't expect the jungler to give you any blue buffs. Both are good though and since both lose usefulness after laning phase it's not a life or death choice.

Merciless : While Meditation is quite good, Karma doesn’t have bad enough mana problems to warrant it over the extra damage. Merciless also helps because Karma only has 1 consistent source of damage and using a defensive Mantra can easily gimp her damage. If you’re still learning her however you can take Meditation as training wheels.

Dangerous Game : You should be taking this since Bandit is meant for supports. The healing can make for clutch saves against DoTs and even Ignite after a successful gank or roam.

Precision vs. Intelligence : Which one you take is dependent on whether you plan to do a 45% CDR build or not. Take Precision if you're not planning to otherwise you obviously will need Intelligence . Overall Karma benefits quite a bit from Precision since it makes her early game stronger and keeps her damage more relevant.

Thunderlord's Decree : Easily one of if not the strongest keystone mastery in the game. In lane Karma can proc this pretty reliably with AA > Q > AA. As the game goes on however it starts to be less reliable since you need to position further back over the course of the game and can't proc it as easily. Given how snowbally the game is now though having a stronger early game is definitely optimal.

Windspeaker's Blessing : With Athene's Unholy Grail + Ardent Censer being a strong combo on mid lane Karma this mastery accomodates the build path. With both items your healing and shield will be 25% stronger and grant bonus resistances. You do sacrifice some damage but you gain quite a bit more utility so it's a fair trade off.




Basically a mandatory spell for its sheer versatility. With it you can make plays or get out of the few situations Karma can’t escape. It’s simply foolhardy not to take this mighty summoner spell. Flash is the best get-out-of-jail free card available and it can be used offensively to secure a kill about to escape.

The amount of sticky situations you can get out of is massive so the utility and application of Flash is part of why it’s mandatory. The only question you should be asking about Flash is whether it should go on D or F.



I've taking a liking to Teleport even mid lane to increase my roaming potential as Karma. She has solid ganking potential with her mix of mobility and soft CC but she's not the most devastating ganker. It's also useful later in the game for getting around the map to do things like set up a creep split-push or quickly get back to your team after buying to take an objective.



A very common spell taken by solo laners for killing power. On Karma, Ignite serves as a finishing move if her two main damage abilities can’t finish the job. Taking Ignite means you can go in for the kill since you will have 5 damage sources instead of 4 (Q, W, Mantra’d Ability, & AAs) Without Ignite, Karma’s primary killing potential comes from her opponent approaching her in an attempt to duel her. Personally I don't run this much anymore since the game is so snowbally that Barrier or Cleanse are more useful to me to avoid dying.



Situational Summoner Spells


Exhaust is a great spell if you want to further your utility or you want to ensure you can out-duel certain champions ( Fiora, Zed, Yasuo). It’s excellent against assassins for establishing your dueling dominance. Like Flash, it has a lot of versatility offensively and defensively and can either improve or get you out of certain situations.

It also has a lot of synergy with your kit, ensuring you can finish that Focused Resolve, power kite, or mitigate a lot of damage with Inspire during a clutch duel. Overall this summoner is best against AD champions who will feel the full effects.



Cleanse is a great option against teams who are reliant on landing CC to reliably kill you. This makes it a potent option against the likes of Ahri, Veigar, and an Elise jungling. It's also a potent summoner spell since it counters Ignite and Exhaust so it's strong against the likes of assassins like LeBlanc who typically need Ignite to finish you off since you can shield through some of their damage.



Starting Out


Karma pretty much only has one starting items set since she has a great early game. Doran's Ring gives a nice amount of health, AP, and mana regen allowing her to be a better lane bully. The warding trinket will help you keep an eye on being potentially ganked but it won’t be an excuse not to buy a Vision Ward when you recall. Don't underestimate double Doran's Ring on Karma either since it's extremely cost effective to ensure lane dominance.



Core Items


Karma is different from your typical mage in that she doesn’t really have a singular, common build like most. Outside of CDR, Deathcap, and Void Staff, her build is pretty fluid and situation based which gives her the advantage of adaptability.

You might find it odd that an item commonly only taken by supports is listed as core for a mid laner. The truth is that even though it gives very little AP, it's dirt cheap for an AP item and with 20% CDR it gives Karma a very fast first item power spike. Your damage will fall off regardless anyway so why not crank up the utility you bring to the team right?

Late game you'll basically function similar to Soraka, constantly poking with Inner Flame to get stacks then shielding whoever needs them for roughly a 150-200 heal on average. By late game you'll constantly be poking enemies and healing teammates at the same time. This item is also super cheap so it lets you get the much needed CDR power spike with Karma very quickly.



The classic shoes of choice for mages. Karma has great base damage so she scales quite well with magic penetration. Having magic penetration is big for Karma since her she only has a 2 spell rotation compared to the average 3-4 on most mages. Being able to cut through some MR mid game really lets Karma put her foot down and zone out enemies with powerful poke and burst.

The flat magic pen is also very helpful to avoid getting walled out by tanks since Karma can’t hit the backline. If I need to roam a lot then I will even finish my shoes before my core item so I can get around the map faster.



If you choose to take 9 Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power and plan to get something like Zhonya's Hourglass or Abyssal Scepter in your build then you need these boots to reach 40% CDR. They reduce your Summoner Spell cooldowns along with the CDR for your abilities which is invaluable.



This item is a great item for maximizing your mid game burst and poke. Karma loves the stats granted and can greatly take advantage of the passive to constantly proc it. The extra 100 base and 10% AP Ratio makes her poke hurt like hell. Mid to late game her Soulflare can almost one shot a squishy who takes both hits and the charges also improve her waveclear.

Overall this is a great item for mid lane Karma since it improves her waveclear, gives stronger poke, and makes her harder to catch. This item isn't exclusive to the burst route, if you decide to build as a glass cannon then it can be a final item, though it's a bit risky. You won't grab this item as often in top lane since you will typically need more survivability over raw damage in that lane.



Staple item of every AP caster (unless you're going tank Karma). After the price nerfs this item isn’t as good of a 2nd item rush since it takes a long time to finish. It does give Karma a huge power spike since her damage, Renewal healing, and shield all become significantly stronger after buying it. Currently I’ve been delaying this to even a 4th item buy since I can get my max CDR power spike even earlier now.

You may have to choose between building Deathcap or Void Staff first based on what the enemy team builds. If no MR then Deathcap all the way but if 1-2 members of the enemy team are building MR you should prioritize Void Staff.



Expect to build this item 90% of the time since any MR built by the enemy team can really gimp Karma's damage. Maximizing magic penetration as Karma combined with max CDR does wonders her damage output. If you see the enemy team buying MR very early (which is quite rare) then this can even become a 2nd item priority. It's a pretty cost efficient item for the most part that's also effective against squishies since it will be roughly as potent as another pair of Sorcerer's Shoes.



Situational Items


Situational Items





Early Game


Karma has one of the strongest early games since she has Mantra at level 1, effectively giving her two abilities, so use this to assert control of the lane. A strong tactic at level 1 is to prime Mantra just before the minions meet in the lane then fire Soulflare as the caster minions. After this use Inner Flame to finish them off and focus on the melee minions. What this does is help you rush level 2 before your opponent and start pushing the lane in from the get-go to force them to use more mana.

While Karma is a fantastic lane bully with Inner Flame, that doesn't excuse sloppy farming. Focus on last hitting as many minions as possible while looking for opening and opportunities to punish your opponent. Auto attack harass is important too since it's free, especially in top lane where most of your opponents are melee.

Typically you will be a lane bully but against heavy sustain this tactic is less effective. Don't forget to harass with auto attacks when possible, ESPECIALLY if you are in top lane. Keep in mind that Mantra abilities can be used for bullying or waveclear because Gathering Fire reduces the cooldown timer each time you successfully harass your opponent; so don't feel you have to conserve it but don't blow it when it comes up immediately.

If you're having trouble getting up to that basic CS benchmark of 70 by 10-11 minutes and roughly 150 by 20 then I highly suggest creating a custom game or playing vs. AI to practice. Instead of killing the bot, just focus on learning the timing of Karma's auto attack animation, which is pretty smooth.



Trading


Poking and trading with the enemy laner is a secondary goal while laning, even though Karma is a lane bully. Inner Flame is a fantastic trading tool thanks to its 950 range, AoE splash, and base damage. Landing a Soulflare is more rewarding as you level up when it becomes increasingly bursty though at level 1-2 it can be a great way to put your foot down. Avoid spamming Inner Flame though otherwise you'll push lane too much and drain mana that leaves you open to retaliation.

A great way to aim Inner Flame is to target a minion that's closest to the enemy laner and let them get hit by the splash for the same damage. This is particularly effective against melee laners who try to hide behind their wave while last hitting because if they're directly behind, the splash will still hit them. With smart use of Inner Flame you're a very annoying lane bully who can zone their opponent away from CS because you constantly chunk their health.

Inner Flame Notes:
Notes


Focused Resolve Notes:
Notes


A general rule of thumb is to always be moving in lane so you can’t be easily harassed and making your attempts to harass more difficult to read. You have a great capacity to out-trade many opponents in lane especially at level 3 when you have your full kit at your disposal.

Keep in mind even with blue buff you should never just thoughtlessly push your lane with Inner Flame. Take advantage of blue buff to make your opponent even more afraid to challenge you and deny them CS. The only reasons to push your lane are for the following:
  • The enemy jungler is dead and all other opponents are in their lanes.
  • Your opposing laner is dead.
  • Your lane opponent has recalled to buy and you want to make him lose a wave’s worth of XP and gold.
  • Your team plans to take dragon and you want to create pressure to distract the other team.
  • You need to recall or plan to roam and gank other lanes.



A Note on Pushing Lane


Around Level 3-4 you should have your entire kit available and it's at this point Karma can start safely pushing the lane against her opponent regularly. Because of the nature of her kit, Karma is resistant to ganks if you've been warding consistently allowing her to safely push lane.

This is a very effective strategy before the first back since Karma is relatively mana efficient if you don't spam. You can constnatly push your opponent in, making them miss CS and burn mana to reset the wave only for you to shove it in again. The key to making it work is also to manage your mana while trying to push so you can escape ganks or all-ins.




You have just hit your 3rd power spike once Inner Flame is maxed out and Soulflare will do substantial damage in team fights. Oddly though this is when Karma is arguably at her weakest though not by a lot. Your damage is still scaling and enemies are getting tankier and grouping up which makes it difficult to burst squishy targets. Defiance will get a lot of use at this time since you will need to focus on giving engage/disengage/protection during team fights.

Be sure to keep last hitting minions so you have at least 200-250 CS by the 25-30 minute mark. By this point you should be able be building into that a second item to increase your presence. Buy an Elixir of Sorcery with any spare gold for extra AP and man regen, especially before teamfights.




Roaming


Mid game is when people aim to try and get towers down and roaming becomes more common. Once you hit level 6 with a 2nd rank in Mantra roaming becomes a good option. While Karma doesn't have much assassination potential she's still a great roamer because she has mobility and she can shove in wave or bully out her opponent to set up for it. Assassins love to roam but it's not always the best option for you. If you're ahead in lane and your opponent isn't hard to kill they can give you a much more guaranteed snowball while shutting down a laner whereas roaming has a lot more risk.

The best way to make worthwhile roams is to have parts of the river constantly warded and communicate with the lane you're going to. This way you can better track the enemy laner and jungler so your attempt doesn't get counter-ganked and backfire. If you do try and roam, I recommend having Mantra up before you reach the lane otherwise you won't have as much presence.

Always clear out the incoming wave, typically 1 Inner Flame and an auto on each caster minion will do while it takes a little more for the melee minions. Doing so forces your opponent to clear and helps prevent the wave from pushing your tower. Once it's pushing I prefer to pull back out of the tower's vision then glance at the mini-map to get an idea of where everyone is before deciding on my route. Taking a second and waiting can also give my laner a false sense of security that I may have backed to base.



Roaming Routes


The routes for red and blue sides are colored accordingly. The dots are common places for enemy wards to be placed that you need to be aware of to avoid alerting the enemy team.

Roaming Map


Analyze the behavior of the lane you're going to around halfway down the river to judge if it's warded or not. I always try to get wards on both sides of the river after each back to enable better roaming and track if anyone on the enemy team possibly placed a ward on one of my routes. If the enemy laner is backing off there must've been a ward I passed so it wouldn't be best to force a gank on an aware and ready lane.

If they're still unaware head to one of the bushes before the lane and wait there for 1 last check on the enemy's behavior. In low ELO it's common for players to only ward side bushes and you don't want to botch your gank over it. Use the same conditions I already mentioned to determine if you follow through or head back only know determine it it's worth possibly tower diving the enemy. Karma's shield can only take about 1 tower hit so don't rely on it too much.



Conditions for Roaming

Good Times

  • The enemy laner just backed or you forced them back
  • You pushed the enemy laner in to their tower to farm
  • You have vision of the enemy jungler and they're not near where you intend to roam
  • There's vision in the river to help you determine if the enemy has no vision themselves
  • Your team communicates a lack of wards and what summoner's are up
  • You have Mantra
  • A lane is overextending
  • The enemy laner has taken some damage
  • Your teammate has a decent amount of health & mana to followup



Bad Times

  • The enemy laner is present and pushing
  • You don't know where the jungler is
  • You have vision of the enemy jungler and they're near where you planned to roam
  • There's a lack of vision on your team
  • No team communication
  • You don't have Mantra
  • The enemy laner is near full health
  • Your teammate doesn't have the health & mana to followup

If any of these bad conditions are present then there's a good chance the roam could be disastrous. At that point I would just keep farming so at least my lane has some pressure. A good rule of thumb is that if a decision sounds even remotely bad, you probably shouldn't go through with it.




Karma's late game becomes less focused on damage and more about keeping her team alive with Inspire/ Defiance then refreshing Mantra to take advantage of any openings her team creates to land Soulflare. She's not much of a play-maker, however she's capable of greatly improving the team's odds of winning with her utility. At this point unless you built more like a bruiser mage you will play like a more mobile, harder to kill artillery mage with constant poke and nasty sieging.

Your utility is great and Defiance becomes amazing for negating AoE ultimate damage since it scales so well. Soulflare is very devastating still if you can land it or snipe a carry for at least 70% of their health on the initial burst. Pretty much anyone can kill them at this point and it can still turn team fights like Defiance with good aim. Focused Resolve at this point can actually finish them off since the AP ratio lets it scale rapidly but don't expect to use it much since you have to get into a dangerous position.

Pay attention to what the enemy team is building so you can optimize you build accordingly. If they start building MR you need a Void Staff immediately so your damage doesn't get gimped.





This should be common sense hopefully but smart players will ward constantly with their trinkets and buy pinks as needed. Be sure to get the Farsight Alteration when available to proliferate the map with multiple blue wards that last until discovered and popped. Vision is very powerful given how limited its accessibility is so never take it for granted.

Don't be stingy on buying a Vision Ward while laning either since they last until discovered and help deal with stealth champions.

Laning Phase Warding




This is the best warding scheme while laning to not only avoid ganks but help track the enemy jungler. Don't fall for the noob trap of just warding the side bushes, it doesn't provide much vision and often times when you see the jungler that close to lane it may be too late. The southern purple spots are great for dragon control and visually alerting your team.


Mid-Late Game Warding




2 noob traps post laning phase is to not upkeep on warding and identifying crucial choke points to cover before taking objectives or team fighting. The warding scheme is based on playing from the blue side so just reverse the aggressive and defensive spots for red side.

When ahead you should be putting wards in the enemy jungle at the displayed choke points to maximize your ability to track members of the enemy team. If behind then use the defensive choke points to prevent losing total control of the jungle. The "jungle control" wards are good places to stick farsight wards in case the enemy team tries to take either jungle boss. The walls opposite of the river bushes in particular are great for this as you'll see the enemy team and Oracle's Lens will likely miss them.





The items listed to the right are the recommended build path to take against the champion in question. Unless noted against mid laners, you can do either the utility or burst build against them. The utility build will be listed however because I feel it gives Karma a stronger late game overall.








Aatrox
Sustain, Snowball Reliant, Built-In Revive

Difficulty: Medium - Hard
Rune Page: Standard (Vs. AD)/Capped CDR (Vs. AD)
Summoner Spell: Teleport or Exhaust
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Seeker's Armguard > Morellonomicon > Boots of Speed

Explanation












Ahri
Kiting, High Mobility, Assassination Potential, Snowballs Easily

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Capped CDR
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Abyssal Scepter

Explanation












Akali
Horrible Early Game, Snowball Reliant, AP Burst

Difficulty: Easy
Rune Page: Capped CDR
Summoner Spell No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Abyssal Scepter

Explanation












Anivia
Crowd Control, Objective Control, Sustained & Burst Damage, Rebirth

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: Cleanse
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Mercury's Treads

Explanation












Annie
Burst, Double Stun, Short Range

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Poke)/Magic Resist
Summoner Spell: Cleanse
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Mercury's Treads > Athene's Unholy Grail > Abyssal Scepter

Explanation












Brand
Burst & Sustained Damage, Combo-Based

Difficulty: Easy
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Mercury's Treads

Explanation












Cassiopeia
Sustained Combo Damage, Hyper Carry, DoT Damage

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Ardent Censer

Explanation












Cho'Gath
Tanky, Commonly an Anti-Mage, Sustain, True Damage Ultimate, Health Stacking

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: Ignite ( Teleport if top lane)
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Boots of Speed > Morellonomicon > Luden's Echo

Explanation












Darius
Melee Lane Bully, Snowballs Hard

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Vs. AD)/Capped CDR (Vs. AD)
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Boots of Speed > Catalyst of Aeons > Seeker's Armguard

Explanation












Diana
Snowball Reliant, Strong Gap Closer

Difficulty: Easy
Rune Page: Capped CDR/Magic Resist
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Abyssal Scepter

Explanation












Fizz
Single-Target Focused, Melee, Snowball Reliant

Difficulty: Easy
Rune Page: Capped CDR
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Abyssal Scepter

Explanation












Galio
Burst, Anti-AP, AoE Taunt > Burst, Pushing

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Void Staff

Explanation












Garen
Naturally Tanky, Passive True Damage, Shouting

Difficulty: Easy
Rune Page: Standard (Vs. AD)/Capped CDR (Vs. AD)
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Boots of Speed > Seeker's Armguard > Morellonomicon

Explanation









ch-2 electron storm grenade


Heimerdinger
Pushing, Zoning, Empowerment Ultimate

Difficulty: Easy - Medium
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Luden's Echo

Explanation












Irelia
Mid Game Queen, Assassination Potential, Bruiser, Built-In Tenacity

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Vs. AD)/Capped CDR (Vs. AD)
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Seeker's Armguard > Catalyst of Aeons > Morellonomicon

Explanation










transform: mercury hammer


Jayce
Stance Changing, Poke, Lack of True Ultimate

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Vs. AD)/Capped CDR (Vs. AD)
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Seeker's Armguard > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail

Explanation












Karthus
Late Game-Focused, Global Pressure, Completely Farm Focused

Difficulty: Easy
Rune Page: Standard/Capped CDR
Summoner Spell: Teleport
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Luden's Echo

Explanation












Kassadin
Assassin, Huge Mobility, Great Roaming

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Poke)/Magic Resist
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Abyssal Scepter

Explanation








sinister steel



Katarina
Clean-up & Reset-Based Assassin, Weak Early Game, Roamer

Difficulty: Easy
Rune Page: Magic Resist
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Abyssal Scepter

Explanation






mirror image





LeBlanc
Assassin, High Juking Potential, Strong Early-Mid Game

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Magic Resist
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Abyssal Scepter > Athene's Unholy Grail

Explanation












Lee Sin
Assassination Potential, Early-Mid Game Focused, Ward Jumping

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Vs. AD)/Capped CDR (Vs. AD)
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Seeker's Armguard > Boots of Speed > Morellonomicon

Explanation












Lissandra
Constant Poke, Kiting, Strong Engage, Lots of CC, Built-In Zhonya's

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Poke)/Capped CDR
Summoner Spell: Cleanse
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Mercury's Treads

Explanation












Lulu
Poke, Utility, Soft CC, Supportive

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Luden's Echo

Explanation












Lux
Long Range, Burst, Zoning, Laugh

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: Cleanse
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Mercury's Treads

Explanation












Malphite
Tanky, Built-In Shield, Strong Initiation

Difficulty: Easy - Medium
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Luden's Echo

Explanation












Malzahar
DoT Damage, Pushing, Suppression

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Poke)/Capped CDR
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Abyssal Scepter

Explanation












Morgana
Sustain, Power Farmer, Anti-CC Shield, Strong Snare, Tether Ultimate

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: Cleanse
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Mercury's Treads

Explanation












Nasus
Farm-Centric, Pushing, Tanky, Anti-ADC, Infinite Scaling

Difficulty: Easy
Rune Page: Standard/Capped CDR
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Lost Chapter > Boots of Speed > Morellonomicon > Ardent Censer

Explanation












Orianna
Micro-Heavy, Sky-High Utility, Always a Good Pick

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Luden's Echo

Explanation









slice


Renekton
Early-Mid Game Focused, Lane Bully, Tanky, Fury Empowerment

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Vs. AD)/Capped CDR (Vs. AD)
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Seeker's Armguard > Boots of Speed > Morellonomicon

Explanation












Riven
Combo, Snowball Reliant, Early-Mid Game Focused, May AFK if they don’t Snowball

Difficulty: Easy - Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Vs. AD)/Capped CDR (Vs. AD)
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Seeker's Armguard > Athene's Unholy Grail > Boots of Speed

Explanation












Shen
Tanky, Teleport Shield, Split-pushing

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: Teleport
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Void Staff

Explanation












Swain
Innately Tanky, Short-Ranged, King of DoT Damage

Difficulty: Easy - Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Poke)
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Boots of Speed > Morellonomicon > Mercury's Treads

Explanation













Syndra
Micro-Heavy, Strong Footsies, Extreme Single-Target Burst

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Poke)
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Mercury's Treads

Explanation






mercy


cutthroat


Talon
Assassin, Anti-Mage

Difficulty: Easy - Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Vs. AD)/Capped CDR (Vs. AD)
Summoner Spell: Exhaust
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Seeker's Armguard > Athene's Unholy Grail > Boots of Speed

Explanation












Tryndamere
Melee Carry, Fury Mechanic, Split-pusher, Temporary Death Immunity

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Vs. AD)/Capped CDR (Vs. AD)
Summoner Spell: Exhaust or Teleport
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Seeker's Armguard > Boots of Speed > Morellonomicon

Explanation












Twisted Fate
Strong Roaming, Pushing, Stun on Auto Attack

Difficulty: Easy
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Mercury's Treads

Explanation












Veigar
Burst, Anti-AP, Infinite Scaling, AoE CC

Difficulty: Easy > Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Poke)
Summoner Spell: Cleanse
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Mercury's Treads > Athene's Unholy Grail > Abyssal Scepter

Explanation












Viktor
Burst, Utility, AoE, Control, Zoning

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Luden's Echo

Explanation












Vladimir
Spell Vamp, Damage Steroid, Casts from Health, Gains Damage from Health

Difficulty: Easy - Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Poke)/Capped CDR/Magic Resist
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Boots of Speed > Morellonomicon > Abyssal Scepter

Explanation












Xerath
Long Range, Strong Poke, Mana Sustain, Skillshot-Based

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard/Magic Resist
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Mercury's Treads

Explanation












Yasuo
Mobility, Built-In Shield, Knockup Reliant, Outplay Based

Difficulty: Easy - Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Vs. AD)/Capped CDR (Vs. AD)
Summoner Spell: Exhaust
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Seeker's Armguard > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail

Explanation












Zed
Assassin, Ability Mimicry, Post All-In Burst

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard (Vs. AD)/Capped CDR (Vs. AD)
Summoner Spells: Exhaust
Item Path: 2 Doran's Ring > Seeker's Armguard > Boots of Speed > Zhonya's Hourglass

Explanation












Ziggs
AoE Burst, Pushing & Counterpushing

Difficulty: Medium
Rune Page: Standard
Summoner Spell: No Counter Needed
Item Path: Chalice of Harmony > Boots of Speed > Athene's Unholy Grail > Luden's Echo

Explanation








Thank you for reading my guide! I hope I helped explain how you can play Karma better or piqued your interest in her at all. If I did help with anything please feel free to leave a comment or a critique since I would love any feedback.

If have suggestions for improving this guide they are greatly appreciated. If you're just interested in my opinion on a matchup per chance, feel free to PM me. Any other criticisms are welcome and I can totally take them.


Special Thanks


sirell: For giving my first guide review and giving me good tips for how I could improve the guide.

Meiyjhe: For his useful critique and giving me the advice to further streamline my guide.

Amanda: For making the dividers for this guide and being a fellow Karma fan.

Vynertje: For your critiques and informing me that Athene's + Ardent Censer is a thing for Karma mid.

Nick: For the handy template to revamp the formatting of my guide.