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Bard Build Guide by Gobomo

Support Bard: Build Anything and Still Carry, Somehow

Support Bard: Build Anything and Still Carry, Somehow

Updated on December 13, 2022
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Gobomo Build Guide By Gobomo 67 4 102,511 Views 6 Comments
67 4 102,511 Views 6 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Gobomo Bard Build Guide By Gobomo Updated on December 13, 2022
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Runes: Hail of Bards

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Domination
Hail of Blades
Cheap Shot
Zombie Ward
Relentless Hunter

Sorcery
Celerity
Waterwalking
Bonus:

+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+6 Armor

Spells:

1 2 3 4 5 6
Standard
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash

Flash

LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite

Ignite

Items

Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
Show All
None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
Synergies
Ideal Strong Ok Low None

Champion Build Guide

Bard: Build Anything and Still Carry, Somehow

By Gobomo
Introduction
So you've decided to play Bard! I applaud you, and I hope that you come to join the Bard Side soon enough. Bard is a very versatile champion in that he can build just about anything and get away with it, and with this I aim to show how versatile he can be. His only real scaling is AP scaling on his Q, W, and passive, but his passive also scales off of chimes. Because of this, he can build anything that runs AP, attack speed (for a bursty meep build), or tankiness. He also benefits well from movespeed items due to his roaming potential and chime mechanic, and since pretty much every item has or compliments one of the four, he can get away with so much.

There's a lot of rune and item options here, but all of them are simply examples based on my own experiences. Especially with items, they're always matchup dependent, and if you have a preference one way or another, I encourage you to make edits and improve my builds! Especially with Bard, items and runes are never set in stone.

As a bit of a foreword, I'm very sorry for the formatting, as this is my first guide and I can't say I'm all that experienced with BBCode. I hope the guide is understandable regardless!
Abilities
Traveler's Call is one of your most important mechanics. You gain XP, mana, and temporary movespeed by collecting chimes that spawn randomly around the map. By collecting these, you enhance your Meeps, which are on-hit modifiers that scale off of your AP and chimes collected. They spawn every few seconds and the max you can have up is based on the number of chimes you have. This passive is most of what lets Bard build anything and still be incredibly powerful. You can roam constantly because the damage you do is mostly based off of chimes, which you get from roaming, and the speed you get allows you to be everywhere at once. The meeps also slow on hit, so if you want to land a Q, be sure to auto attack first to make it easier to hit the skillshot.

Cosmic Binding is a standard skillshot that slows, but if there's a wall or another enemy behind your target, it'll stun both your main target and whoever's behind them, if it procced off of a second enemy. This is a very powerful tool, and is what makes you win lane 90% of the time. Using this ability in lane teaches you positioning around minions very quickly, as you'll be looking for ways to shoot your Q through a minion to stun an enemy standing behind them. It's incredibly fun to look for opportunities with this ability, and if you use it correctly, you can win any lane matchup. Additionally, although one-time spell shields (like those of Nocturne) will block the damage, it will not block the ability from traveling past them and stunning them if it hits a wall or another target.

Caretaker's Shrine is a health pack that gets stronger if it stays up for 10 seconds. Notably, it gets destroyed if an enemy walks over it, similar to Zyra's plants. Use it similarly to Teemo shrooms - you want to set them up so that you or your ADC can escape an engage with the health and movespeed. You can only have 3 out at once, but if you place it directly on yourself or another champion, you can use it without it erasing the first one placed as it gets immediately used. Use it on yourself whenever you're roaming and collecting chimes, as the movespeed is nice, the health tops you off, and you get the mana back anyways just by getting chimes. You can also use this to check bushes, as it'll grant vision for a second or two when you place it.

Magical Journey is your best friend and your greatest tool. I can't even begin to go over the amazing portals you can place here, so I'll just go over general use cases. It can be used to escape a gank, as you can Q any enemies that follow you through it to stun them immediately against the wall that they come out of. You can use it to gank, too, since you can easily catch up to or cut off anyone trying to run away. Don't use this off cooldown or you'll be very, very sorry when you have to use it for something much more important than getting a chime slightly faster.

Tempered Fate is a versatile ability that will either make your teammates sing your praises or curse your name under their breath. It's so, so easy to mess up this ult, but at the same time, it's incredibly easy to carry the game with it. If you're in a teamfight, using it to engage or stun their backline for a few seconds can be useful, or you can just use it while ganking to catch up to someone trying to run away. Just like a stopwatch, it can block damage that's normally unblockable, like from Ignite, Requiem, or even Liandry's Torment, but the notable difference is that you can use this on your teammates if they're about to die to one of those. A cool thing you can do is using it on a tower when a Rift Herald is charging it to stop it from taking any plates, although you'll then have a max health Herald under your tower. Still, that's preferable to having a 40% health Herald and no tower. The only real way to know when an ult is good or when it is bad is to use it, so just play some draft and get used to the timing and use cases. You'll throw some games, but you'll be learning your champion in the process. It has the same stasis time as Redemption's windup, so if you use Redemption right after it hits, you'll be able to get Redemption to connect 100% of the time on both allies and enemies.
Items
This is going to be a quick rundown of what each item brings to the table, as well as when you should build them. This'll be much, much more reliable a guide than the item sets I've put in the guide so far, as you often have to change your build in the middle of a game because of circumstances beyond your control, such as the enemies' builds, or even just how much you're winning.

Locket of the Iron Solari is the most viable mythic on Bard. It is also the most boring. It's incredibly powerful, sure, but it also doesn't really do all that much besides help you win. You don't get to have fun just by saving your team. You need to do dumb **** to have fun, you're Bard. Go this 90% of the time in Ranked.


Luden's Tempest is typically what you'll be going if you want to do damage. It's easy to proc with your meeps and your Q, and it'll enhance any burst combo. Bard generally lends himself well to bursty trades due to how his meeps work, and this will help you make them.


Night Harvester is a good item, although in my opinion the 40 second cooldown kind of hampers it. I'd only go this if I was running Ingenious Hunter, as you'll most likely be wanting the extra poke damage in the neutral game. In teamfights, though, this can prove itself to be even better than Luden's Tempest. Notably, it gives your ult damage on hit, which can be useful in niche situations and hilarious in all situations.


Do you want to run Bard as an AP Bruiser? Build Riftmaker - the only AP bruiser mythic in the game! Yeah, Riot's itemization in Season 12 kind of sucks for some champions, but that's fine. I don't find this a very viable mythic, but it's not like it's bad on him. If you want to build tanky but still do a good amount of damage, this is the mythic you want to go. Bard does surprisingly well in sustained trades if he builds into it.


Liandry's Anguish is just ****ing annoying. The AoE from your upgraded Meeps can proc this past wave, so you can just be incredibly annoying and constantly burn your enemies. Poke your enemies out of lane with this, focusing more on small trades than all-ins due to the damage over time. Even with this, though, his all-ins are pretty good due to the inherent base power of his Q and meeps.


Kraken Slayer is a mythic you build solely for the attack speed. The crit and true damage is nice, but 10% attack speed on every legendary item is really good, especially since you get a free legendary with your support item if you're building this as support.


Galeforce is similar - build it if you want a small dash and movespeed scaling on your legendaries. This one's a meme, but it's an incredibly fun one.



Moonstone Renewer is, to put it bluntly, a meme on Bard. He doesn't have the poke to abuse its passive like Zyra or Brand, and he doesn't have substantial enough heals to make use of the increased heal and shield power. It's fun, but not very good.


Evenshroud is a really good item on Bard if you don't want to run Locket and want to be a more offensive playmaker tank. I think it's weaker in general, since Locket has a super powerful active and Consecration is incredibly powerful, but it's still good if you want to support in kills rather than saving people.


Crown of the Shattered Queen is an item that won't get you much value in the 2v2 lane, but it will help you immensely in jungle fights and lane ganks due to the fact that you'll have downtine while roaming to reset the cooldown. It's also a solid choice in mid or lategame if there's an assassin that keeps killing you.


Nashor's Tooth is in my opinion the best damage item on Bard, and I build it almost every game. It gives a stupid amount of both AP and attack speed, two things that Bard loves to have. It improves your burst by a good amount, and gives you consistent damage by giving your auto attacks AP scaling through the on-hit effect.


Dead Man's Plate improves your roaming and gives you good ganking with its passive. It's built by almost every Bard for a reason, and I build it whenever I'm not messing around with a full damage build. The stats it gives are great too, since Bard makes a surprisingly good use of the damage, and armor and health are always relevant.


Frozen Heart is a busted item against divers, and is a great item in general. The flat damage reduction seems pretty weak until you realize it's post-mitigation, meaning it blocks much, much more than you realize. Lowering attack speed is nice too, especially when there's a Pyke or someone similar whittling you down. Notably, the damage reduction stacks with Randuin's Omen's passive.


Cosmic Drive got reworked for the preseason, and while it's not bad, it's no longer a must-have item on Bard. You want to take this if you're going to go for more extended fights, with any less bursty build. Works well if you're on Riftmaker, Nashor's, or a tankier build.


Horizon Focus got a nice little change in the preseason, making it proc off of slows. This means that you don't even need to Q to proc it, which makes it about 20x more powerful as all of your meeps apply a slow effect.



Demonic Embrace is good for the same reasons Liandry's Torment is, but with the added benefit of having a solid AP to HP conversion for you. Go this if you're building Riftmaker, or slam it on top of your Liandry's to double your burn. The update in Preseason 12 made it a lot worse for Bard in particular, as the defensive stats really helped him, but the item is still generally good in the same situations and it works a lot better as a damage item in tankier builds.


Rapid Firecannon is an item that I've come to love on Bard. I haven't sung its praise my whole time as a Bard lover, but I do admit that he likes all of the stats on it (except for crit) and the passive is great to help engages. This is a generally solid supportive item that fits into almost any build.


Redemption is insane on Bard, as I've mentioned twice before in the guide. It has the same windup as Tempered Fate's stasis, so if you pop it in the middle of your ult right after it hits, it'll hit every target inside as soon as your ult ends. If you're building the tank/support hybrid, or you're building enchanter, build Redemption every game.


Zhonya's Hourglass is an item that I admittedly don't like building. It's not in any of my recommended builds because I genuinely think it's too boring of an item. It can singlehandedly save your life or turn a losing fight into a winning one, but it doesn't do so in a way that's stupid. If you're trying to win, build this 2nd or 3rd item. If you're playing to have fun, building the most overpowered item in the game probably isn't great, especially when its effect is so relatively boring.


Shadowflame is perhaps one of the most interesting items added in Season 12. It's the only item that gives flat magic penetration outside of Sorcery Shoes or your mythic, which gives it an interesting niche if you're trying to stack magic pen. It's great for cleaning up people who would otherwise escape, since you already have so much chase potential between portal, ult, and chimes you may pick up in the chase.



Shurelya's Battlesong is a great item that is generally a good pick on Bard if you're going a more support-oriented Fleet Footwork or Guardian build. Unfortunately the passive will only really work on his W, so you're mostly going to be using it for its active effect to chase kills or peel for your team.


Imperial Mandate procs off of your meeps and your Q. This is free damage that you don't need to do anything out of your way to earn, on an item tied for the cheapest mythic in the game. This is good on any Bard build that wants to deal damage without necessarily stealing kills.
Boots
Mobility Boots, or Shmobis as I prefer to call them (as they offer intense shmovement), are by far the best boots you can go on Bard. If you're roaming to gank, these give you the most mapwide mobility, especially when stacked with chimes and Celerity.


Boots of Swiftness are generally a much more consistent version of Shmobis, since they don't have the downside of being lost in combat and they have the upside of slows being less effective on you, but you lose out on 55 speed because of it.


Ionian Boots of Lucidity are the second cheapest boots in the game, right behind Boots of Swiftness, and they provide ability haste and summoner spell haste. Bard likes both of these stats. These are just a generally good boot option if you don't know what else to build - they're right next to Boots of Swiftness as the safest pick in general circumstances.

Sorcerer's Shoes are generally the go-to first item for mages, but Bard is an interesting exception. He's not really carried by his damage, and you'll likely get more kills by going something that improves your roam and chase pressure. These aren't bad boots to go, but they're not always the choice like they would be on someone like Neeko.


Berserker's Greaves are good if you want to add on some more damage in an attack speed build, or really any build if you're running Nashor's. I'd recommend these if you can't roam for whatever reason and you're not building tank, as they'll give more consistently good damage compared to Sorc's.


Plated Steelcaps and Mercury's Treads are two sides of the same coin. You pick Steelcaps vs. heavy AD, especially against champions that primarily do damage through autos, and you pick Treads vs. heavy AP, especially against champions that have a lot of CC. If it's about even between AP and AD, typically Mercury Treads are the better option. Although these give you more defense, you should have plenty of defense on tank, and you shouldn't need the extra defense on damage. I find these generally to be inferior to just building Mobility Boots.
Runes

DOMINATION
With the Domination tree, pretty much every rune is viable in one way or another. Dark Harvest and Predator, however, aren't really as good as your other two options. While Hail of Blades is good at any stage of the game, and Electrocute gives you an amazing laning phase, Dark Harvest ends up being poor early and only really worth its weight late. Predator isn't great simply because Bard has enough movespeed as it is, and being faster when ganking isn't necessary for him, though I will concede that it's very funny.
Taste of Blood gives you some nice healing in laning phase, but we all know that healing is for the weak and aggression is for the real gamers out there, which leaves us with Cheap Shot and Sudden Impact. Cheap Shot procs off of every Q, which is nice, whereas Sudden Impact is usually not really worth it considering it only procs off of your E and you won't always engage with a portal.
Eyeball Collection is the safest pick here, full stop. You're going to be getting assists as Bard if you're playing properly, and this rewards your roams with some nice stats. Zombie Ward is my personal favorite here, though - Bard has some of the safest vision clear in the game, since every ability of his is an escape tool in one way or another, and so this lets you profit off of aggressive ward clearing in a way that no other rune really can. Ghost Poro is fine in lower ELO, but in higher ELO your wards likely won't live their whole life, as junglers and supports will sweep the hell out of them.
I hear your cries. "Gobomo, please help me decide on which Hunter rune to go!" The short explanation is that pretty much all of them are viable except for Treasure Hunter, because the gold spike doesn't help you nearly as much as the other runes do. Ingenious Hunter works off of both passive and active item cooldowns, meaning it'll lower the cooldown of things like Redemption as well as Luden's Tempest, making it a very strong choice. Lowering your trinket and support item cooldowns helps a lot vision-wise, too. Relentless Hunter is generally my go-to, as roaming is always going to be relevant. It's just a really solid rune. Ultimate Hunter gives you more ults, which lowers its already pretty low cooldown and lets you control teamfights that much more often, although it's generally a weaker rune than Ingenious and Relentless.

PRECISION
Let me preface by saying that you are inting if you build Conqueror. It's not good on him, he doesn't like extended trades enough to justify running it, especially when other runes are better for it. Press the Attack could work, but your damage is mostly frontloaded, so you'll get the increased damage only after your burst combo. Fleet Footwork has gotten popular recently because of Lathyrus swearing by it - I don't think it's bad, but I don't find the sustain very good in lane. It's definitely a personal preference, and I don't want to knock it if you find success with it, I just personally haven't found it to be all that impactful in my laning phase. Lethal Tempo is good if you want a more extended version of Hail of Blades for an on-hit build to make your damage less frontloaded, or if you want to run a bruiser build with a few on hit items, such as running one with Riftmaker into Nashor's Tooth.
Overheal is just a really bad rune, as much as I love it. It's such a cool idea that unfortunately doesn't translate well into a rune. Triumph is very strong, both because it can amplify your support income and because it can give you some much needed teamfight survivability. Presence of Mind isn't a bad choice, but it ends up being redundant in most cases when you can just get some chimes.
Legend: Alacrity is great if you just want some free attack speed, which is always appreciated on Bardo. Even if you're running no other attack speed benefiting items, it'll let you throw your meeps faster, which is always appreciated/ Legend: Tenacity is amazing in the cc-heavy meta we're in right now, especially when stacked with something like Plated Steelcaps or Sunfire Aegis. I don't think Legend: Bloodline is worth taking, as your base damage isn't that great and lifesteal only procs off of attack damage.
Coup de Grace helps you finish off low health enemy targets, which is generally what you want to do if you're playing Bard correctly - that being killstealing as often as you possibly can. Cut Down is great versus very frontline-heavy teams, such as one where there's at least two tanks or fighters between jungle, top, and support. I wouldn't recommend it as a general use case rune, though. Last Stand can be great for the "I'm not stuck here with you, you're stuck here with me!" outplay moments, but in my opinion is just worse than Coup de Grace in most scenarios.

SORCERY
Summon Aery is underwhelming on Bard. It's good on some champions, like Malzahar, who have the issue of having no CC and thus no consistent way to hit Arcane Comet. It's also good on some champions like Lulu who use it mostly for the shielding aspect, and less so for the poke. Bard, however, doesn't really care about either. The extra shield whenever you W is nice, but it's by no means powerful, and you'd end up protecting your ADC more by being aggressive with something like Electrocute. Arcane Comet, meanwhile, does more damage and has the nice benefit of having its cooldown reduced whenever you deal damage... say, by your meeps? It's inherently synergetic on Bard, and while it offers less damage early than Electrocute, it works better lategame and is a safer alternative to Hail of Blades if you don't want to be in skirmish range constantly. I see a lot of Bards taking Phase Rush, and while I can see the appeal (as it's as eay to proc as Electrocute is), the movespeed doesn't help you much. Between your portal, W, chimes, meep slow, and ultimate, you very rarely have an issue catching up to enemy champions. Still, it's not a bad rune on him, it just doesn't do much that you don't already do.
Nullifying Orb is great if you're facing an AP damage support like Lux or Neeko, or you're facing an AP carry like Ziggs. It's a great defensive tool in lane, and while I wouldn't go it every game, it's a solid flex rune as the other two on the tier are underwhelming. Manaflow Band is pretty much useless on Bard unless you're going for a weird Seraph's Embrace build, and even then it gives you less than 300g worth of stats. Nimbus Cloak is nice if you're flashing for a kill or trying to get away with flash, and is generally going to be your go-to on this tier if your primary tree is Sorcery. I wouldn't go any of the options on this tier if Sorcery is your secondary, though.
This is a wonderful example of a set of 3 options that are all incredibly good on Bard, and are all ones that you want. Absolute Focus is the weakest of the tier, but it's by no means bad, and I can completely understand if you want to use it. Transcendence is a surprisingly good rune not just for the raw stats, but for the potential of a reduced cooldown on your E after a successful gank, which can be the difference between surviving and dying. Celerity, though, is by far the best in the tier. I have a bit of a bias, since I do enjoy going fast, but 4 move speed at the start of the game is nothing to scoff at, especially given how much you'll be roaming. Additionally, it'll give you an extra 7% on the movespeed you get from other sources, which means after you have Mobility Boots and a few chimes, you'll be getting to teamfights and ganks much faster than you would. It's a small benefit, but it really adds up over time.
This is another case where all 3 of the options presented are pretty good. With that said, Gathering Storm is going to be rather underwhelming compared to the other two, as games are often decided in the first fifteen minutes and Bard doesn't scale terribly well off of raw AP compared to someone like Lux. That doesn't mean it's a bad rune, it just means it's not nearly as good as the other two. Waterwalking is generally going to be your go-to rune, as you'll be in the river a lot between ganks, scuttle fights, dragon, and herald/baron. Extra movespeed is really good, especially because you path through the river a lot, and the AP bonus can help you a lot in those fights. Scorch is a pretty good choice if you want a stronger burst combo with something like Electrocute, and the damage it gives you will lower the cooldown of your Arcane Comet, which makes it nice in that sense, too. I'd recommend going Waterwalking, though, unless you really need that extra bit of damage.

INSPIRATION
The inspiration tree got two major changes in patch 11.23 with the preseason, the most notable of which being the removal of Prototype: Omnistone and its subsequent replacement of First Strike. I don't feel as though First Strike is any good on Bard, as you lack range to proc it safely, as well as substantial enough burst damage to make it worth it. Glacial Augment got a rework, and it's now much, much stronger on everyone but Senna, and this includes our best friend Bard. Take this rune if you don't want to go full damage but you also don't want to tank - it's a pretty powerful option. Finally, Unsealed Spellbook, the meme that it is, is actually a pretty solid pick on Bard. He doesn't really benefit a ton from any keystones compared to other champions, so being able to take the power from your keystone and put it into your summoner spells is a great choice. Great for stealing dragons, and much more viable in doing so with the new Objective Bounty system.
Hextech Flashtraption is a very powerful rune that I have yet to learn how to use effectively. I see a lot of people take it on Bard, and I see it working pretty well, though. It's great if you're really bad about lazy portals, as it gives you a second option to greed for chimes. Magical Footwear is a big no-no as Bard. You rush boots as your first item, so having them delayed to 12 minutes is incredibly bad for you. The 300g is nice, and the 10 bonus MS is as well, but it's not worth it when you get boots so late. Perfect Timing should be your go-to rune here, as Stopwatch is one of the strongest items in the game and if you're not building pure damage, Zhonya's being 250g cheaper is a boon.
Biscuit Delivery is going to be the safest option here by far. You're throwing if you go Minion Dematerializer on support, although I suppose it'd be fine if you're playing another lane, and Future's Market is just a generally weak rune unless your name is Ivern. A little extra sustain in lane is always nice, and worse case you can sell them for a tidy profit. The max mana generally doesn't help you, but it obviously doesn't hurt. I wouldn't recommend any of the runes here, to be honest - you'd much rather be on Insight & either Stopwatch or Hexflash if you're going secondary runes.
Cosmic Insight is just a good rune, and is the safest option of the three. Lower trinket + support item cooldowns is always a nice bonus, plus lower cooldowns on any other items you build as well as your summoner spells. You don't really need to play around this rune to use it effectively. Approach Velocity is good for chasing, and it excels on Bard because his autos proc it when you have Meeps up. Bard's stick potential isn't horrible, but he definitely appreciates more of it. Time Warp Tonic is okay, but you won't really be using it beyond biscuits and the two potions you start with, so I wouldn't recommend it.

RESOLVE
To put it bluntly, Grasp of the Undying is not good on Bard. He wants to make short trades with his passive, but in order to keep the stacks up, he needs to either be autoing minions (getting rid of his passive), or autoing champions (making the trades less short). Aftershock is a bit better, as it'll proc off of his Q stuns and his ult, but it runs into the issue of him not being in melee range all that often, making the damage pointless - you'd be running it for the increased resists, which are only half the keystone. The only viable rune here is Guardian, which is an amazing option on Bard due to the fact that his W will proc it at infinite range.
Font of Life is pretty much the only choice here. Demolish is a pretty solid rune if you want to be pushing up into tower and you're playing an aggressive lane, as it can get you some early plates for your ADC, but it's a very niche pick here. Shield Bash has absolutely no merit for you, since you have no shields in your kit. Font of Life, meanwhile, gives your ADc some nice sustain in lane, and can make a bad trade less harmful or a good trade even better.
This is one of the few cases in a rune tree where no rune is better than the others. Conditioning is a great pick if you don't need the other two for laning phase and you want to make a tanky build even tankier. Second Wind is a good rune if you want sustain in pokey lanes like Zyra or Brand, and Bone Plating has the inverse use case - it's better versus burstier lanes like Pyke, and better for warding off ganks from assassin junglers. In most cases, you want Bone Plating, but they all have a lot of merit.
This is another case of all of the runes being pickable, although I think that Revitalize is the weakest of the three. You don't heal enough for it to be super valuable, and while it can definitely be nice for your ADC and midlane to have more powerful shrines, the extra 10% is hardly noticable. It's a lot better here to take the selfish picks of Overgrowth for more survivability, or Unflinching to stop CC from impacting you as much. You have the best escape tools in the game (barring things like Zed W) in your kit, so CC will absolutely destroy you if you're not careful, and Unflinching helps stop that.
Build Options
While I've included build options in the previous section, I don't really go in depth and they're more examples than guidelines. Bard is such a versatile champion that anything is viable on him, although the "meta" picks are rather boring. Taking any rune other than Guardian or Fleet is "off-meta", though some are less meta than others. With that said, here's some basic ideas you can run with.

Supportive
With a supportive build, you're likely going to be building Locket of the Iron Solari, Evenshroud, Imperial Mandate, or Shurelya's Battlesong as your mythic. You can opt for Everfrost as well, but it's likely that you'd rather spend 300g less for one of the effects of the other items, since a lot of the stats go to waste, relatively speaking - the extra AP it gives you doesn't scale too well on Bard unless you're building full AP. Radiant Virtue is a new item added in Season 13 that's seeing some good success, and is a great pick if you want to spec into a more tanky build.

For items, you're always going to want to be building Dead Man's Plate and Chemtech Putrifier, no matter what else you're doing in the build. Dead Man's improves your roams quite a lot and fits into pretty much any Bard build, and Chemtech is a cheap way to get Grievous that's easily procced by your W. Rapid Firecannon is another solid item, and pretty much any build that's not meming on support will want to build Vigilant Wardstone because of the insane vision control that it gives you. Anathema's Chains is a great pick if you're on a tankier build and want to be able to teamfight better versus a fed enemy carry. Redemption is a great item that's synergetic with your ultimate ability, as explained in the Items section of the guide. If the enemy team is weighted heavily towards AP or AD, build Abyssal Mask for AP and Randuin's Omen for AD. Knight's Vow and Zeke's Convergence are both great picks if you have a particularly fed person on your team that you want to amplify.

Recommended Runes: Guardian, Fleet Footwork

Tanky
So you saw the supportive section, and decided that you wanted to actually build more tanky, rather than full support. As a tank Bard, you want to build Evenshroud, Radiant Virtue, or Iceborn Gauntlet - which depends a lot on who's on the enemy team, and how much gold you have. Iceborn Gauntlet is really only viable if the enemy team is lacking on AP.

For your second item, you'll probably want to build Dead Man's Plate second, as it's just too strong as a roaming tool. I cannot understate how powerful this item is on Bard, and how fun it is to zoom around the map with your Swifties/Mobis, Dead Man's Plate, and chime speed - especially if you're also running Celerity.

Past that, you'll likely just be going with standard tank itemization. Randuin's Omen or Frozen Heart for heavy AD, especially autoattack based champs, Force of Nature or Turbo Chemtank for heavy AP (the former for especially heavy AP, the latter if you need a bit of utility as well), Knight's Vow or Warmog's Armor are great if you just need health, the former being a cheaper option that works in a more supportive role, while the latter is just pure HP that gives you staying power after ganks because of its passive. Thornmail is a great way to bully ADCs and particularly lifesteal-y champions, and Anathema's Chans is a solid pick against any champions trying to 1v5.

Recommended Runes: Guardian, Fleet Footwork

AP Burst
If you want to run a burstier build, you're in luck - Bard's passive means that he excels at short auto trades with a limited number of empowered autos, so shorter trades running Electrocute or Hail of Blades work phenomenally on him. If you're going with a bursty AP build, I highly recommend taking Nashor's Tooth as your first item - it'll give you consistent damage on your autos even when unempowered, it gives you a whopping 100 AP to start your scaling, and the attack speed makes it much, much easier to get your empowered autos off. It's a great first item on any damage-oriented Bard build and I cannot stress that enough.

When it comes to mythic, you have a few options. Crown of the Shattered Queen seems like an obvious choice, with a great ability and a mythic passive that gives you movespeed and AP, both stats Bard enjoys. I recommend going Crown if you're against a comp that can burst you down, just because of how damn good the stats are on you. If you feel like Bard doesn't have enough lockdown, you can also go with Everfrost, giving you even more CC on top of the slows and stuns of your kit. Both of these options are a bit tankier than the rest, so they fit more if you're not trying to go full mage-assassin.

If you only care about damage, your main options are Night Harvester or Luden's Tempest, though you can also justify Hextech Rocketbelt. Night Harvester is notable for making your ult do damage, which isn't very useful a lot of the time, but it is very funny and I do highly recommend it. The movespeed it gives you on proc is also pretty nice for you if you're chasing or escaping, and it gives 10% more movespeed than Luden's. Luden's Tempest is generally my go-to because of its great passive and magic penetration, which both increase the power of your Auto-Q combos on enemies. Hextech Rocketbelt is a bit of a gimmick on Bard, as he generally has no issue with extended chasing because of his autos naturally slowing and his portals allowing you to cut people off very easily, but it can be very fun to use and play around with. It also has the benefit of being built out of Hextech Alternator, just like Night Harvester, so you can pivot from one to the other if you don't know which you want to go and want to leave the option of MPen open.

When it comes to non-mythics (that aren't Nashors), Bard has a lot of options. Dead Man's Plate and Rapid Firecannon slot pretty well into any build, even this, as both give burst damage and Bard loves the stats they give him regardless. For build-specific options, very few items can give Bard the incredibly easy burst of Lich Bane. You're Auto-Q-Autoing most of the time anyways, so this just makes your life a lot easier. You can even weave in self-cast Ws if you really want to push the spellblade passive to its limit, since the heal and movespeed isn't ever going to be wasted in a 1v1.

Cosmic Drive is a great item for fights that extend beyond just an Auto-Q, as your passive's on-hit counts as a unique instance of ability damage. The extra movespeed is nice, but having 40 extra AP in fights turns this into one of the most stat-efficient items in the game for you, for something so easy to proc and keep up. Horizon Focus is just free extra damage for you, as your passive autos automatically slow anywys, so it's no extra work to proc it.

Shadowflame, Rabadon's Deathcap, Zhonya's Hourglass, and Void Staff are all generally great items that are no better or worse on Bard than they would be on any other mage. You go Shadowflame for some nice flat magic pen (especially versus targets with shields), you go Rabadon's last item if you want pure damage over utility, you go Zhonya's pretty much every game for survivability if you're actually trying to win, and you go Void Staff to deal meaningful damage to tanks.

Recommended Runes: Hail of Blades, Electrocute, Arcane Comet, Dark Harvest

Consistent AP Damage
If you don't care all too much about burst, you can go for a more teamfight oriented AP build. For your mythic, you can go Riftmaker or Liandry's Torment, or just pivot from a tank mythic into AP when starting with items like Evenshroud or Iceborn Gauntlet. Imperial Mandate or Everfrost also serve pretty solid purposes as cheaper mythics that still give you the power to do consistent AP damage in teamfights while giving utility to your team.

Nashor's Tooth is still a great item in these builds, though it's probably better as a 2nd or 3rd item, not worth building over your mythic. Demonic Embrace is a solid pick option versus tanks, but it's not an "every game" item because of the reduced damage on ranged champions. Abyssal Mask is a surprisingly solid item here if you'll be taking magic damage, since the reduced resists is obviously a great help for you - Banshee's Veil fulfills a similar purpose (of providing MR) but is mostly good if the enemy team keeps engaging on you with CC. Naturally, Cosmic Drive and to a lesser extent Lich Bane are both good options too, as both will give you pretty consistent damage in fights. See the previous section for comments on Shadowflame, Void Staff, Zhonya's Hourglass, and Rabadon's Deathcap.

Recommended Runes: Arcane Comet, Electrocute

Bard ADC
So, picture this - you see a support with purely AP scaling, but a lot of utility in his abilities. You ask yourself "well, how do I make Kraken Slayer work?". You are met with silence from the Heavens above, but thankfully this guide goes against the wishes of any gods that may be watching my every move.

You have four mythic options, in my opinion. Galeforce, Kraken Slayer, and Immortal Shieldbowl, obviously, but Trinity Force is a surprisingly great option on Bard too. He likes all the stats it gives him, and the passive for extended trades and a spellblade passive are both things that an ADC Bard really enjoys. I'd say that in most games, you want to go Galeforce for the mobility. It's a pretty nice dash with homing projectiles, but what really looks sexy to Bard is that sweet, sweet 2% movespeed off of every other legendary. With this, Celerity, Boots of Swiftness, and your chime passive, you're going to be roaming around the map with a terrifying speed. Kraken Slayer is the most obvious use case, as you take it when you have enemies stacking resists up the wazoo when you want to be melting them as much as possible. Immortal Shieldbow is probably the weakest of the four, in my opinion, as the lifesteal is a lot weaker on Bard than other ADCs (as he does less damage, and mostly brings utility to the table). Naturally, Trinity Force is what you want to take if you're building something a bit beefier than the standard ADC, and is generally good if you want to build a more ADC-Bruiser hybrid build.

When it comes to attacking, Bard really likes to build on-hit, because his base autos leave a bit to be desired, and his passive is an on-hit effect anyways. This means items like Guinsoo's Rageblade and Runaan's Hurricane (as well as the new, reworked Navori Quickblades), and as always he enjoys Rapid Firecannon. Blade of the Ruined King is a really good option for dealing with tanks, and it's even pretty solid against squishies. Essence Reaver is a really good pick as it's a spellblade item that gives crit, synergizing well with the 3 crit-amp items and helping Bard's naturally affinity towards spellblade passives. Further on-hit options include Wit's End, Muramana, and even Nashor's - Bard appreciates the AP in any build due to his passive, Q, and W scaling, and the attack speed isn't going to be wasted on him. Phantom Dancer and Mortal Reminder are notable for being cheap items that provide both movespeed and crit, stats than an ADC Bard enjoys quite a lot.

Recommended Runes: Hail of Blades, Lethal Tempo, Fleet Footwork, Press the Attack

Bruiser Bard
When it comes to bruiser, there's a lot of overlap - you can justify pretty much any item on a bruiser build, be it AP or AD, more tank-focused or more damage-focused. Trinity Force for AD and Riftmaker for AP are the obvious first choices, but you can also justify Stridebreaker, Divine Sunderer, Imperial Mandate, Evenshroud, Radiant Virtue, Iceborn Gauntlet... I could keep going, but I think I've made my point by now. With how flexible Bard is, and how broad of a class bruiser is, I honestly think you could mix and match these into almost any build and get something that works. Because of that, I'll just go over some of the items you'd build if you need more of one specific thing.

Damage: Nashors Tooth for consistent on-hit AP, Essence Reaver for an AD spellblade, Lich Bane for an AP spellblade, Muramana for a ton of raw AD, Phantom Dancer for faster hits if you're in long trades, Titanic Hydra if you're building rather tanky, Wit's End if you need some MR with your damage build.

Survivability: Dead Man's Plate for armor + roam, Turbo Chemtank for MR + roam, Warmog's Armor for pure HP, Abyssal Mask for a bit of increased AP damage on top of MR, Thornmail and Randuin's Omen to bully ADCs, Anathema's Chains if one person is particularly fed, Frozen Heart if you want to make every AD champion cry, Fimbulwinter if you're desperate to get shielded off of your stun.

Utility: Rapid Firecannon and Dead Man's Plate, as always, are great for this. Umbral Glaive if you really need vision control and are willing to have a mostly useless item in your build for it, Mikael's Blessing vs. CC heavy teams, Knight's Vow to protect a carry.

Recommended Runes: Lethal Tempo, Conqueror, Grasp of the Undying

Lethality Bard
This is probably the least viable one so far. Bard has no innate AD scaling, so you're definitely going to need to build some attack speed - this is difficult, as no lethality items offer attack speed. You'll need to spec into at least one attack speed item, and most likely runes like Hail of Blades and Legend: Alacrity. Unfortunately, in a build like this you can't really afford to go attack speed boots, as you really want either Swifties or Mobis for the roam. I recommend Runaan's Hurricane or Guinsoo's Rageblade as options for your attack speed item.

For your mythic, you want to go Eclipse - this will get procced by just your auto and passive. Amazing synergy with Ingenious Hunter, too, since reducing its cooldown is very useful when its so easy to proc. Duskblade of Draktharr is justifiable, though it's not as strong, and Kraken Slayer is understandable as your attack speed item with the rest of your items being lethality oriented. Prowler's Claw is not good on Bard.

For your first (non-mythic) item, you almost always are going to want to go Youmuu's Ghostblade, since the speed it gives you is very nice, especially on top of the lethality stats. Umbral Glaive is obviously amazing on Bard as always, Serpent's Fang should have very obvious applications, and Black Cleaver is a solid lategame anti-tank item. Muramana is an amazing item purely for its raw stats, giving a lot of AD and some on-hit that scales with attack damage. Ravenous Hydra is good for waveclear. If you want to spec intro crit, Navori Quickblades or Infinity Edge are takable - with Collector and Runaans Hurricane you've already hit the 60% threshhold without needing to splash much at all.

Recommended Runes: Hail of Blades, Lethal Tempo, Predator, Dark Harvest

Please note that this is by no means exhaustive - the only way to know what items work for you is to play with them, and I can't go in depth enough to explain exactly when you should pick certain items. This section is meant to be more of a guideline where I express my own experiences with each build, and I highly recommend you experiment to find out what items work for you. However, I am free to answer any questions you have on itemization![/i]
-TODO-
This guide is far from complete. I still need to add more matchups and synergies, a lane guide, and a section for what to do in each phase of the game. Probably also a tips & tricks section, I dunno. Thank you for reading this far, though, and I hope that you pick up Bard! Hopefully this will be finished sooner rather than later :p
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Gobomo
Gobomo Bard Guide
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Bard: Build Anything and Still Carry, Somehow

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