Bard Build Guide by CataclysmG
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AP/Attack Speed Mid Lane
+12 Attack Damage or +20 Ability Power, Adaptive
Core Build (check notes)
Threats to Bard with this build
|Bard||Blind picking Bard mid into Bard mid? Tragic. It's a skill matchup. :^)|
|Camille||If you do happen to see this, don't worry. If she goes for a hookshot, Q her and stun her onto the wall she does it on. If she ults you, ult her (if you can get her exclusively in it) and try to look for an angle to Q stun. If her ult is rank 1, she can't actually keep her ult up as long as yours lasts (as of 7.7)|
|Morgana||Morgana got a mini-rework that gives her a bit of sustain. Thus, this matchup got much harder. Dodge Q if possible, and ult her if you can get out of her ult. Otherwise, ult yourself.|
|Pantheon||I don't know why someone would pick this into Bard. But if they do, just Q stun them when they do anything. His passive can block one auto, but the meep still hits and he can't block all of our autos.|
Hey, I'm Cata. I've been playing Bard since about a month after his release, and I absolutely love him. The best parts are his carry potential yet insane utility. Bard's scalings, as a support, are relatively high. After all, Bard has legitimately only received buffs. I'll go over the pros and cons of Bard mid, and how to play each lane effectively. In the runes section, I mainly discuss the core Bard keystones and what individual runes will work well. Mid lane isn't an awfully different rune setup from support, albeit a lot more aggressive. This is a mid lane guide. There are reasons to go mid and reasons to go support. Figure them out for yourself, it's individual to each person.
- Tons of innate sustain through W stacking/passive chimes (8.10 buffs made W even stronger!)
- High base damages
- Scales extremely well (7.7 buffs helped, preseason made it even better)
- Can still be played supportlike in mid lane if necessary
- High roam potential/lane pressure/gank power (preseason also helped)
- Easily gankable if misplaying, since he lacks mobility without walls
- Requires high map awareness for roams
- Relies relatively heavily on items/chimes
- Hard to pick up
- Hard to master
How to Play Bard Mid
Bard mid is functionally better than every other role. This is because he's able to roam to either top or bot in the same amount of time from the mid lane, and he's the king of the jungle. (Sorry Rengar.) Bard's roam potential is the main focus of his lane, so you want to try to chunk down your opponent and shove in the lane as much as possible in order to apply pressure in every lane at once. How do you do that? Well...
Bard's laning phase consists of these things:
- Stack W under tower, or in a line behind you while laning so you have an escape route. Make time for chimes, as they are your main damage source and mana sustain.
- Pressure the enemy laner with Q and auto attacks, a passive-empowered auto and Q will proc electrocute if you opt into it. Make sure you still farm.
- Roam top, bot, or even to the enemy jungle and kill everyone you can find, letting your team have the kills if they aren't a tank. You don't need more than the assist gold as long as you take a little bit of CS or jungle camps along the way. As much as you need items, your ADC needs them more.
If you play this right, you should at least be on par with your enemy's CS and have a significantly better KDA than them. However, you have trouble with some matchups, which are detailed based on your build chosen above.
A lot of your sustain in lane also relies on your passive chimes. These, when picked up, grant a stacking temporary movement speed buff along with 12% of your maximum mana. Every 5 chimes, you are granted a buff. (these are detailed below (7.7 buffs and non-7.7 buffs)
These passive buffs are also the main source of your damage, as the passive has a decent AP scaling and is virtually spammable. Runes can also have a huge impact on your playstyle, which is why they're the next chapter below. Every player has their own opinion on Bard's best keystone/path, so forge one for yourself. Don't take my word 100%.
Flash is your classic "take 100% of the time" spell.
Ignite is my preferred keystone, giving Bard good killing power early and letting him shut down anything that might outheal his damage later.
Exhaust is a bit of a more niche keystone, for a supportlike style of laning. Can also be used for some cheese kills. Would suggest into stuff like Fizz that just jumps into you and one shots you.
If your top laner wants to take ignite, I would take teleport. That pressure is extremely worth it when used correctly.
There's a lot of freedom with Bard's runes. The obvious answers for keystones are...:
Electrocute allows a lot of easy trades. While the cooldown is high, the damage is well worth it late game as you'll be able to burst down carries with ease.
Hail of Blades is a newer keystone that I've seen a lot of people run on Bard support, with varying success. I've never tried it personally, but plenty of people have vouched for its viability, so I'll include it.
For lanes where poke is a necessity, Aerie (yes, it's still Aerie to me and I won't ever say otherwise) is a solid option. It's consistent, adds extra shielding to your healing and she won't let you down (unless she does.)
See Aerie, except comet does a bit more damage now and can lead to some pretty unexpected kills early on.
Glacial Augment Bard was more of a niche keystone, and with the 8.1 Glacial nerfs it's pretty awful now. Wouldn't recommend unless you're vs a melee that you can hit easily with GLP.
As for non-keystone runes, you probably want to opt into these:
Transcendence helps you get that extra little bit of CDR you always wanted to cap out your 40%. It also helps with a bit of bonus AP if you get an extremely CDR heavy build.
Scorch is good with comet or Aerie, in my opinion. With electrocute, it doesn't fit the playstyle too much but it can still work. Scorch adds damage to basically every trade you opt into, which is why it's so good on poke mages (which Bard can almost be)
These three runes are the domination runes I have above, and there's a good reason for all three of them. Cheap shot adds damage to most if not all trades as Bard since our autos and Q both apply a slow, proccing the extra true damage. Ghost poro is better over eyeball collection (which absolutely blows btw) and zombie ward, since we probably aren't running sweeper or buying a control ward every back. Ingenious Hunter synergizes perfectly with our typical Hextech-item builds.
Here's an honorable mention and a half: Presence of Mind. This rune has been on almost every page I've run since it was changed to its current state, and I show no signs of stopping running it. Bard doesn't even really utilize the ult cooldown in most forms - it's just such a cool niche rune that I run it strictly for the mana regen in lane. Just me though, try it out with Coup de Grace in the secondary tree.
Bard's Passive Upgrades
5 Chimes- 25% slow, +15 damage
10 Chimes- +1 meep (max 2), +15 damage
15 Chimes- Meeps strikethrough the target, dealing the same magic damage as the initial target (old 25 chime buff), +15 damage
20 Chimes- Meeps respawn every 7 seconds, +15 damage
25 Chimes- +10% slow (35%), +15 damage
30 Chimes- +1 meep (max 3), +15 damage
35 Chimes- Strikethrough cone size increased (way faster than the original increase at 65 chimes), +15 damage
40 Chimes- Meeps respawn every 6 seconds, +15 damage
45 Chimes- +10% slow (45%), +15 damage
50 Chimes- +1 meep (max 4), +15 damage
55 Chimes- Meeps respawn every 5 seconds, +15 damage
60 Chimes- +10% slow (55%), +15 damage
65 Chimes- +1 meep (max 5), +15 damage
70 Chimes- Meeps respawn every 4 seconds.
75 Chimes- +10% slow (65%), +15 damage
80 Chimes- +1 meep (max 6), +15 damage
85 Chimes- +10% slow (75%), +15 damage
90 Chimes- +1 meep (max 7), +15 damage
95 Chimes- +1 meep (max 8), +15 damage
100 Chimes - +1 meep (max 9), +15 damage
Note: Every rank gives +15 damage, and this includes all ranks after 100
5 Chimes- Thrown Meeps apply a 25% slow
10 Chimes- Thrown Meeps do (30 at 0 stacks) +25 additional magic Dmg (55)
15 Chimes- Gain +1 additional meeps
20 Chimes- Thrown meeps do +25 additional magic Dmg (80)
25 Chimes- Thrown meeps will now strike through the initial target in a cone, applying slow and dmg to all hit inside the cone
30 Chimes- Thrown meeps do +30 additional magic Dmg (110)
35 Chimes- Meeps reappear 1 second faster (12 at 0 stacks) (11)
40 Chimes- Thrown meeps do +30 additional magic Dmg (140)
45 Chimes- Thrown meeps apply a 45% slow
50 Chimes- Thrown meeps do +35 additional magic Dmg (175)
55 Chimes- Gain +1 additional meeps
60 Chimes- Thrown meeps do +35 additional magic Dmg (210)
65 Chimes- Increased cone width (this is actually huge)
70 Chimes- Thrown meeps do +35 additional magic Dmg (245)
75 Chimes- Meeps reappear 1 second faster (10)
80 Chimes- Thrown meeps do +35 additional magic Dmg (280)
85 Chimes- Thrown meeps apply a 60% slow
90 Chimes- Thrown meeps do +30 additional magic Dmg (310)
95 Chimes- Gain +1 additional meeps
Don't do it.
This trap is a massive waste of gold. Sure, it gives you attack speed, movement speed and a bit of extra range, but you know what?
You're wasting 1200 gold for crit that won't do anything for you in an AP build, plus that extra range is negligible when it comes down to the grand scheme of things. This is assuming the item is cost efficient in the first place. The item is worth 2225 gold, so the passive is normally worth 375 gold if the item is to be 100% gold efficient. With Bard, this amount is closer to 1575. Sure, you can throw an auto attack from a slightly higher distance every 10 seconds or so, but if you could throw an auto attack you would have been able to do it safely regardless. Tell me, how often does building RFC net you anything on ADCs with low range like Sivir?
/r/bardmains is a great community for discussing everything Bard. I heavily recommend joining if you're interested. I also mod the subreddit's Discord if you want to talk to me directly. The link is discord.gg/bardians, and my name is Cata#6969. I love hearing people's Bard mid adventures, so throw me a message sometime.
In addition, I'm undergoing some desperate times right now. College debt is kicking my ***, so I would greatly appreciate any and all assistance. Contact me on Discord if you would like to contribute. <3
EDIT 4 (7.7 Update): Revamped whole build in preparation for 7.7 buffs, left old build intact as it's still viable.
EDIT 5 (Mid 7.11 Update): Removed GA from situational items, added Banshee's to example build, reasons to build abyssal reworded, mastery notes reworded, reworded introduction.
EDIT 6 (Mid 7.16 Update): Changed a few matchups, removed Gunblade entirely, added protobelt as a core item. Reworded introduction, added attack speed to runes over magic pen.
EDIT 7: THE BIG ONE. Changed a lot of things. Runes have been completely changed, intro and conclusion have been reworded, I've changed a little bit about Bard's laning phase, Zhonya's is a better option than Banshee's now, and I changed some descriptions when it comes to items, runes and ability maxing. Welcome to the preseason.
EDIT 8: Rune fix. Changed runes to reflect more testing.
EDIT 9: Added runes chapter to fit S7 author rewards. (Thanks PsiGuard!)
EDIT 10: Small fixes. Fixed build having Liandry's instead of Rabadon's, changed description accordingly.
EDIT 11: Glacial is dead. Removed Glacial Augment as a keystone.
EDIT 12: New AP Items. Added spellbinder and twin shadows to item list.
EDIT 13: 8.10 QOL Changes Changed a lot of wording, edited itemization.
EDIT 14: 8.13 Midseason Changes Removed Rageblade from optional items, added summoner spells section, added hail of blades and presence of mind to runes.
EDIT 14: 8.18? I didn't edit anything major. Just wanted to change the title lmao