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Karma Build Guide by Bombolz

Support 7.9 | In-Depth Karma Guide - The Ultimate Carry Support

Support 7.9 | In-Depth Karma Guide - The Ultimate Carry Support

Updated on June 23, 2017
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Bombolz Build Guide By Bombolz 25,565 Views 3 Comments
25,565 Views 3 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Bombolz Karma Build Guide By Bombolz Updated on June 23, 2017
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UPDATE

IMPORTANT UPDATE

As of league's patch 7.12, this guide no longer works. With the changes to Redemption, Locket of the Iron Solari and the direct nerf to Karma I know think janna and lulu are the strongest shield champions. With that said, playmaking supports such as Blitzcrank and Thresh are currently the meta.
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What makes Karma so powerful?

As of patch 7.9 Karma is a top tier support in both SoloQ and competitive play and with the upcoming nerfs to lulu in patch 7.10, Karma will become an even higher priority pick. Her kit offers a large amount utility and teamfighting potential to every team composition. Her laning phase offers a good amount of poke as well as good survivability for your ADC.

This guide will go into depth about the strategies, itemizations as well as general advice for supports.

This guide is divided into 6 Chapters:

1. Itemization + Runes/Masteries explained
2. Laning and the early game
3. Ability Analysis, Other tips and tricks + Teamfight positioning
4. Goals as a Karma player and Playing as a team - Mid to Late game
5. What's different about my Karma vs other players?
6. Pros / Cons
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1. Itemization + Runes/Masteries + Summoner Spells explained

SUMMONER SPELLS
For summoner spells, you should be taking Exhaust and Flash in 99% of games as your goal is to help your team survive. On rare situations when you need the healing reduction such as playing against a Vladimir and Soraka then taking Ignite is a viable option.


RUNES

These runes should provide you with a total of:

12.1 Ability Power
16.8 Armor
72 Health
4 Magic Resist

These runes are allocated in such a way that they are extremely efficient in slot. This combination of runes trade off some damage for extra defensive and supportive capabilities. I personally don't like having a lot of scaling runes on support as you will generally be lower levels than other roles and have slower exp gains making them inefficient. Most supports take magic penetration, which is efficient for damage output, but for this particular playstyle, a focus on direct ability power and defensive stats is a better choice even if it reduces your damage by a slight amount.

MASTERIES

The masteries are fairly standard, except the choice between Runic Armor and Veteran's Scars and could be argued for either side and is mainly up to preference. I personally take Veteran's Scars for the bonus 50 health, combined with your runes should provide an additional 122 health at level 1, allowing you to be deceptively tanky. While the extra shields on Runic Armor is a nice bonus, it only affects you, and is less impactful during the early game and more impactful during late game. Take Wanderer and Explorer to help with moving around the map, and Recovery for extra lane sustain.

ITEMIZATION

Starting items
The itemization is shown above but I will explain why and when these items should be bought. Starting items is fairly basic and you'll be starting the majority of all games with a
Spellthief's Edge, 3x Total Biscuit of Rejuvenation and a Stealth Ward. Occassionally, you can swap out 2x Biscuits for a Control Ward or the Warding Totem for a Sweeping Lens.

First back
Ideally, on your first back, you should be able to upgrade your Spellthief's Edge into a Frostfang, as well as purchase the rest of the items above. However if you do not have enough, you should decide between a Faerie Charm and a Control Ward. Frostfang and and extra Faerie Charm provides an additional 75% mana regeneration, which is sufficient for the duration of the laning phase.

Early game items
During the early game, finishing the Faerie Charm into a Forbidden Idol will solve all your mana issues for the rest of the game, as well as provide a nice boost to your shields and give you 10% cooldown reduction. Buying a Sightstone before completing Forbidden Idol is also a choice you can make, allowing you to place down useful wards. The dragon may be contested during this stage of the game so you should keep that in mind. Also, once you purhcase a Sightstone, always swap out your Warding Totem for a Sweeping Lens, then upgrade into a Oracle Lens whenever you can. Lastly, if you feel like you need the extra defensive stats, opt for a Aegis of the Legion (or one of it's components), otherwise purchase Boots to help with roaming.

Core items
The most important part of your build is your core items. You should finish both Redemption and Locket of the Iron Solari as soon as possible, except if you feel the need for extra wards, upgrade your Frostfang into a Eye of the Watchers. In most cases, you should avoid buying a Frost Queen's Claim. Most of the time, you should finish your Redemption before your Locket of the Iron Solari for extra map pressure. Ardent Censer is a potentially powerful item which can be bought before the other 2 core items in certain situations. Rushing this item can provide a power spike on completion, particularly if you have a team that has good synergy with this item, such as a Lucian. I tend to find that unless you are already winning the lane, buying the other 2 core items is more valuable than the Ardent Censer. After your core items are completed, go ahead and purchase Tier 2 boots. Luckily, Karma is extremely versatile and can purchase many different types of boots for different situations. All of the above are viable, however most of the time, stick with Ninja Tabi or Mercury's Treads for extra survivability.

Late game items
During this stage of the game, most games will have concluded or will be soon and you will usually only be able to complete one of the above items, so take into consideration the impact it will have as well as its components. Each of the above items are useful for different scenarios, however, most of the time you should considering buying an Ardent Censer as it offers even higher shield strength. Combined with Windspeaker's Blessing and Redemption, your heals and shields will increase by 30%, as well as provide additional armor and magic resist for allies - keep in mind that this also increases the shield provided by your Locket of the Iron Solari and the heals provided by Redemption. Each of the other above items are useful in different instances, for example if you find yourself getting focused, and the enemy team has a fairly high amount of physical damage purchasing a Zhonya's Hourglass or Dead Man's Plate can help reduce the likelyhood of you dying. Furthermore, the movement speed bonus from Dead Man's Plate helps in allowing you to more easily snare enemies with Karma's Focused Resolve and the ability power from Zhonya's Hourglass increase your shield even further.

Examples



Here, you can see a fairly standard Karma build, with the 2 final items of choice as Ardent Censer and Randuin's Omen. Ardent Censer is a good choice in many situations, but not the best, however in this example, it offers Karma some nice benefits, providing a much welcomed 8% movement speed bonus, 10% additional cooldown reduction increasing it to 35% cooldown reduction as well as 60 ability power, however the mana regen becomes redundant at this point. For your team it makes your shields and heals even stronger by 10% (and yes, as mentioned before this works on both Locket of the Iron Solari and Redemption). The healing and the extra attack speed and damage on hit synergise well with this team composition, Darius uses basic attacks fairly often along with an attack reset, Lee Sin weaves in basic attacks during his abilities, and while Viktor does not, it does provide additional damage to his Siphon Power as well as return a slight amount of health. This item works best for Lucian out of all the other champions as his passive Lightslinger benefits double from Ardent Censer. And while not extremely impactful, the 30% bonus heals and shields from your mastery and items also work with Ardent Censer, the 35 heal on hit becomes 45.5 - therefore healing lucian for 91 health everytime he uses a basic attack alongside his Lightslinger passive and dealing an additional 70 magic damage.

The Randuins Omen allows you to provide additional peel from your carries, it can be used to reduce Hecarim's movement speed, and therefore his attack damage (from his passive Warpath). Furthermore, it provides extra survivability, particularly from Caitlyn's 80% critical strike chance + infinity edge.
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2. Laning and the early game

LANING

Depending on the match-up of both the supports and adc as well as the jungler's influence you'll be either forced to play defensively or aggressively. Swapping and adapting between these playstyles is important in controlling the pace of the lane which allows you to catch opponents off guard or telepath incorrect information to your enemies. For example, suddenly switching from offense to defense (and vice versa) implies that your jungler is nearby. Regardless of playstyle, they can both act in your favor, if the jungler has their focus on your lane, that means you're absorbing pressure from other lanes which is good as long as you or your adc do not die and this applies to other lanes as well. Hence, you should try and ward up any possible gank paths, as well as the enemy's jungle.

To make ganks more sucessful, laners should attempt to force the enemy laners to use their Flash so that their junglers can gank a flashless lane. Trading flashes leaves you open to ganks and counter ganks, thus communicating with your jungler is crucial in making use of the enemy's summoner, while being wary of your own. Be sure that you have knowledge of the enemy jungler's location, as a counter gank can be extremely fatal. To start off a gank, use Flash, then a quick Focused Resolve should be enough to lock down an enemy, however if you feel the need, use Exhaust if the enemy has a high damage output (e.g. Draven), and Inspire for the extra movement speed to better tank and stick onto your enemy.

WARDING

The best time to roam and place down wards in the river/enemy jungle is when your lane is pushed, as it gives room for you to re-enter the lane without receiving poke or being forced to take the longer route back to lane. Actively warding and providing information on where the jungler is greatly benefits not only your lane, but all the lanes as well as your jungler. Warding further up the river covers the gank path for mid lane, as well as a potential gank bot. By warding the enemy camps, you can determine the jungler's approximate location as well as possible gank paths. If the enemy's bot-side jungle is clear, it means the enemy jungler is most likely in the top half of the map, and vice versa, if ther jungle camps are still there then the jungler will most likely be there soon, particularly if it is a red/blue buff. If you're not sure if it's safe to ward, ask your jungler for assistance and invade the enemy jungler to ward as a duo. If both your mid lane and both lanes have their lanes pushed, that is an effective time to ward the enemy jungler as they can quickly respond to any fights occuring in the jungle.

ABUSING COOLDOWNS

Often at times, players do not make use of advantages leaving wasted opportunity to further snowball the game. If the enemy has used Flash, or any other summoner spells keep the timers and act within the window their summoners are on cooldown, specifically their flash. Obviously, this varies from match-up to match-up, particularly if the enemy bot lane is a kill lane such as a Lucian and Braum. Notifying your jungler and asking for assistance to make use of such advantages is important, often at times I find using the chat for direct communication a much more effective means of communicating with your jungler rather than just clicking on the enemy's Flash Icon. The correct way to communicate should be direct, straight to the point, and polite, demanding a gank from your jungler impolitely could lead to internal arguments within the team - which you should always avoid if possible.

x "Gragas gank bot ffs they have no summs"

+ "Bot no summs, jg can you gank bot please?"
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3. Ability Analysis, Other tips and tricks + Teamfight positioning

ABILITY ANALYSIS
Karma's kit is both simple and complex at the same time. Her ultimate Mantra offers a unique depth to her kit that will click with some players and take some time to learn for others. When you should be using what enhanced ability is quite important in differentiating good Karma players from bad ones. That said, during team fights, you will almost always use the empowered Inspire but target selection is also crucial as not only is the shield stronger, the area of effect is based on the target and not Karma herself. Sometimes you may want to shield the frontline, other times your ADC, and it is crucial for you to determine which is the most effective choice in each scenario.

During the laning phase target selection varies, often at times you should shield yourself rather than your adc. Using Inner Flame to poke has downsides, often pushing the lane in the process, so keep that in mind especially if your ADC looks like they want to freeze the lane.

If you have seen the ability order you may have noticed that I've only put 2 points into her Inner Flame before leveling Inspire. Because of the runes and masteries, your focus is more on durability and supporting rather than damage and poking. Putting any more than 3 points becomes inefficient, particularly as a support player because you will always be underleveled and your damage becomes low.

OTHER TIPS AND TRICKS

Making a gank successful
Karma has many options to make a gank successful through her abilities. While going for a kill, using Focused Resolve allows more time for your team to apply damage as well as close the gap through the extended root duration. Another option is to use an empowered Inner Flame to increase damage output as well increasing the slow amount. Be sure to use the empowered Inner Flame shortly before your Focused Resolve has finished channeling to ensure that both instances of damage from the empowered Inner Flame is dealt. Lastly, using an empowered Inspire can provide yourself and your team a movement speed boost to guarantee a snare on Focused Resolve while also providing shields and movement speed bonuses to close the gap. While each of these abilities have their uses in different situations, it is also extremely important to consider a fallback plan and how effective each ability would be in a countergank. Often, an empowered Inspire is generally the best ability to use in a situation where your jungler has been counter-ganked.

Critical seconds
Because Karma's ultimate Mantra begins cooldown on the initial cast, pre-emptively using the ultimate where potential teamfights may happen can decrease the cooldown by several crucial seconds. Because Mantra has such a short cooldown, particularly during the late game, Karma can often use her ultimate multiple times throughout a teamfight when combined with her passive Gathering Fire and by pre-emptively using her ultimate, those few seconds saved may prove the difference between a lose and won teamfight.

If a situation where a ability such as Inspire may just come off cooldown, however your ultimate Mantra still has a few seconds before it finishes the cooldown, often at times you will have to decide between providing an instant weakened ability or waiting those few crucial seconds in a teamfight to provide a much stronger shield boost. While there are too many situations and conditions to consider, it is important to be calm and consider your options.

Psychological Warfare
Karma is one of the greatest support champions to bait enemies to over-commit and often punished for doing so, particularly with this guide's build. Because Karma is deceptively tanky with the masteries/runes and itemization, and the massive heals and shields provided on her abilities, Karma can and should bait enemies to over-commit if the situation allows for it. Saving a last second Exhaust and Inspire could save you or your team from a deadly situation, but also force enemies to commit such that they can no longer back out of the engagement. If executed correctly, this can be extremely frustating for the enemy player, and while this guide does not specifically go into psychological warfare (which may seem more important than you think), frustation often makes a player make poor decisions and more likely to over-commit in a situation where they would not usually have. From personal experience playing against other Karma players, I've gathered that Karma is simply just an extremely annoying and frustating champion to deal with. Other psychological tips include flashing the mastery icon, but as I mentioned before this guide will not go into depth on psychological warfare in League of Legends.

TEAMFIGHT POSITIONING
Karma's positioning in teamfights is extremely important in determining whether a fight is won or loss. Karma cannot directly initiate a fight, nor is she a tank, her primary goal is to support the team, which is most effective if she's in the back but also within arm's reach of the ADC. Her Inspire has a big cast range, so it provides a large area for Karma to support from. Karma is one of the best support in helping your team kite.
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4. Goals as a Karma player and Playing as a team - Mid to Late game

Karma's goals are simple - keep your team alive. With her kit and itemization, Karma offers a large increase in the team's survivability. While Karma cannot directly initiate fights, the movement speed provided from Inspire can help other members of your team to initiate. The mid to late game phase usually involves contesting for objectives and vision. You should not ward alone unless your are certain it is clear to do so (I sometimes make this mistake) and if you get caught out of position, that's potentially a lost objective. Make sure you are communicating and working with your team in order to place down wards and clear out vision. Playing as a unified team is possibly the most important aspect of ranked play, therefore you should often communicate using the chat to provide insight and potential moves your team could make - pseudo shotcalling.
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5. What's different about my Karma vs other players?

Well, for one, most Karma players will put a stronger emphasis on damage, opting for magic penetrating for their runes. Others will take mana regen which only helps during the very early stages of the game and become redundant later on. A lot of Karma players also max Inner Flame first, or put 3 or more points into that ability. Lastly my Karma build offers a large amount of durability, which prevents champions such as Syndra from outright 1-shotting you.
A standard 5-item Karma at level 16 (late game) with Mercury's Treads provides:

2346 Health / 5.2 Health regen per second
1097 Mana / 13.1 Mana regen per second
122 Armor / 55% damage reduction
126 Magic resist / 56% damage reduction
107 Ability power
35% Cooldown reduction
434 while in river or brush / 420 Movement speed out of combat / 410 while in combat

But don't let me tell you, look at the results yourselves. I've spent, about 15-20 games experimenting with similar builds, ability order as well as runes and masteries. For the previous 9 games of Karma I've won 8 of them using this exact build. I've found that I have the most success with this build, however take note that because you are a support, results may vary depending on your division.




THE AFTERMATH

After playing some more games, the results remain mostly the same with a slight drop, however that said, I did experience more games involving trolls (trust me, you don't want to fine out how "viable" a support ezreal is) / people dcing (and laging) / and the general case of a bad team.


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6. Pros / Cons


PROS:
+ Versatile and adaptable to many situations and team compositions
+ Customizable to your own unique playstyle
+ Very strong teamfighting support
+ Deceptively tanky
+ Easy to pick-up - little reliance on skillshots
+ No direct counters
CONS:
- Lack of reliable hard crowd control
- Somewhat hard to master
- Requires high level of knowledge rather than mechanics to be successful
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