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Bard Build Guide by Gobomo

Support Bard: Build Anything and Still Carry, Somehow (Preseason 12!

Support Bard: Build Anything and Still Carry, Somehow (Preseason 12!

Updated on December 15, 2021
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Gobomo Build Guide By Gobomo 29 2 34,458 Views 2 Comments
29 2 34,458 Views 2 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Gobomo Bard Build Guide By Gobomo Updated on December 15, 2021
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Runes: Hail of Bards

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Domination
Hail of Blades
Cheap Shot
Eyeball Collection
Relentless Hunter

Sorcery
Celerity
Scorch
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
Standard
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash

Flash

LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite

Ignite

Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
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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 (Preseason 12!

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 Anguish, 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 11 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 a great item if you want to play an enchanter support without actually playing an enchanter support. This is really good if your team needs heals and you really, really want to play Bard regardless.


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 sure is an item. It's incredibly weak against poke supports like Zyra, Xerath, Brand, and Vel'koz, but if you're in a matchup where the enemy team tends to burst you down with frontloaded damage, this is a great mythic to build. It doesn't have the damage of Luden's or the utility of Evenshroud or Locket, but it's a great pick if there's a bit of a mid diff and the enemy team's Zed is 14/0.


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 AD, and armor and health are always relevant.


Frozen Heart is a busted item against divers, and is an amazing 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.


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 Anguish is, but with the added benefit of having some really nice defensive stats on top of it. Go this if you're building Riftmaker, or slam it on top of your Liandry's to double your burn. The update in Preseason made it a lot worse for Bard in particular, as the defensive stats really helped him, but the item is still good in the same situations.


Rapid Firecannon is an okay item on Bard. I don't think it's great, and I feel like it's very overrated on him. It's only really picked because it's cheap and helps your burst slightly, but in my opinion, there's better options. Good for the extra range if you're going First Strike, though.


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.


Shadowflame is perhaps one of the most interesting items added in the preseason. 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.
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.


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.
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.
All 3 of these are viable options, although I prefer Eyeball Collection simply because of my tendency to fight a lot. It's the easiest to stack, however it doesn't give the vision benefits of Ghost Poro and Zombie Ward. If you're in a higher ELO and want vision, Zombie Ward is usually a much better option than Ghost Poro, whereas if you're in a lower ELO, Ghost Poro is your best bet as no one clears wards.
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 Ravenous Hunter, as you don't really do enough sustained damage to justify it unless you're building a bruisery Riftmaker build. 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 is probably the second best of the four, but given how hard it's been gutted for ranged champions as well as Bard's low range compared to most champions that run it, it's not typically worth running. 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.
[/tr]
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.
-TODO-
This guide is far from complete. I still need to finish up runes and 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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Bard: Build Anything and Still Carry, Somehow (Preseason 12!

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