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Sona Build Guide by TurnDaBeatAround
Be Aggressive, Be Be Aggressive (and win) [Patch 9.1]
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+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
Threats & Synergies
Unless you position yourself poorly and get knocked into a wall, seeing this guy in lane means free gold!
People overrate his danger level. If you play to stay out of his range and prioritize that as you work, you can bait out his mana and win the exchange.
You getting caught is one thing. Your ADC getting caught is another. You aren't prepared early to help disengage that, so he gets a lot more credit for his early snowball potential. I autoban him to save me headaches I can't fix through good gameplay.
Is not nearly as dominant as in the past. The hook is very readable and everything else you have a range advantage.
Hakuna matata with her in lane - try to poke and poke, but don't get frustrated with her shielding.
Be careful of some nasty early damage if they decide to run a very aggro build. Avoid that and the rest of the game is all gucci.
The Leona hook poses a problem for you. You must be mindful to stay out of range of that, and doing that may cost you some pokes/gold.
A Nami bubble early is a death sentence. You have to respect her ability to stop you cold.
Morgana can stop you cold - except that your minion shield puts the kabosh on that. Stay safe by staying behind minions against her and she's easy gold.
Lux sucks to fight against. Her range is so strong for so many of her abilities. If you don't feed her early kills, you'll be fine mid/late game. If you do . . .
Take a similar approach as you would Brand and bait out the AoE ability.
Do watch for the Aggro Soraka early build, but apart from that happy poking!
You must respect the bombs early scale - if you get tagged, don't kill your ADC with the AoE on your head, and play conservatively - wait for him to setup first, then respond by Qing him.
You must be aware of her flash-stun potential, because her stun AND her damage are just silly if you're on the business end of it.
Biggest thing here is to use minions as a shield and watch for the stun. Do that and Bard is a big fat gold sack for you to poke for withdrawals from.
Why Sona in Season 9?
Domination is the main tree I recommend for Sona, and Sorcery tree is now the secondary tree of choice. It is time to scrap sustainability for aggression, taking Dark Harvest and utilizing all the early game poke advantages Sona can offer. Pair this with Taste of Blood and Ravenous Hunter for additional lane sustainability and scaling. Sorcery tree provides a nice early game boost to mana and some extra damage. The beauty of this is that IF you hit autos and assert yourself, you setup really well for the aggressive item build package in this kit, letting you scale really nicely mid AND late game, without any major lag, ESPECIALLY if you get a kill or two in there.
On your first back, you will be upgrading to Frostfang and may have additional gold for Boots and a Control Ward. With this build, you get increased gold and damage from your poke, which should be incentive for you to redouble those efforts. Use your Control Ward in a spot you can easily defend from the enemy - they should need to invade in order to take that ward out, and the Control Ward is usually enough to stop the gank in its tracks assuming you're watching and reacting in kind. Each time you back, you should buy at least one if not TWO of these - yes, TWO of them. You will use them and your team will be thankful for the win later.
The build otherwise is pretty straightforward after that - complete your Boots of Swiftness, Eye of the Watchers for the fourth ward it will have, and then it is onward to either Lich Bane or Ardent Censer. Ardent Censer can enable quicker takedowns of turrets and easier dragons/baron through the increased Attack Speed you confer on both you and your teammates just by using your W - Aria of Perseverance, so don't be mindless in going for Lich Bane; if you have an ADC that can take advantage of it, consider Ardent Censer.
So here's how it works: After casting 3 basic abilities (Q W and/or E), Sona gets a Power Chord, where her next basic attack deals bonus magic damage, PLUS an additional effect depending on the last spell cast. Where this gets a bit silly is that it is not tied to the 3rd spell cast to proc Power Chord - it remembers the last spell cast, so you can manipulate what the Power Chord is AFTER you proc it!
Q - STACCATO: Power Chord deals 40% bonus damage.
W - DIMINUENDO: Power Chord reduces its target's damage output by 25% (+ 4% per 100 AP) for 3 seconds.
E - TEMPO: Power Chord Slow icon slows its target by 40% (+ 4% per 100 AP) for 2 seconds.
So, you can wallop more damage, you have a semi-exhaust, AND you have a slow in your kit just by using your abilities and then hitting that auto-attack. Being mindful of which spell is charging that Power Chord and changing it if needed before auto-attacking can be the difference between a kill and an escape - there have been so many times where having Song of Celerity on a Power Chord has made an escaping opponent very sad as they slowed to a crawl, allowing my jungler or ADC to strike the final blow, or Aria of Perseverance on an early fight Power Chord reducing a hyper-carry's damage output by 25% (+4% per 100 AP) for three seconds(yes, it is THAT good!).
Oh, and I didn't mention in this the math involving Dark Harvest and the healing procs from the Domination tree effects. This gets silly super super fast, and even with DH being nerfed early in Pre-Season, Sona mains find plenty to take home in the existing numbers.
Practicing hitting that basic attack with Q and trading gives you a much stronger reward for risk; you NEED to take advantage of it.
1. Do not lose your life! While not all life loss is preventable (ganks do happen, even when warded properly) too many Sonas try to be overly assertive/aggressive and burn through all their mana, making themselves almost entirely useless and just a free 300g target in lane, or they get caught by a stun (Taric stun, Nami bubble, Zyra snare, Leona, Rakan, the list goes on...) and then a volley of damage from both the ADC and Support wipe out the Sona. As much as you want to do everything else on this list, you cannot do those things if you lose your life. DO NOT LOSE YOUR LIFE!
2. Be offensive in your approach to warding. Your ADC likely will not value warding, or will value warding only in areas they want to shoot in (bottom bushes) so it is incumbent on you to do a couple of things - to ward in tri/river bush, and to annoy your ADC when they push too far into the lane. Too many Support/ADC combos do not value that river or tri-bush ward (especially tri-bush, no matter which side of the map you're coming from). Your anal-retentiveness may annoy your laning partner, but they will forgive you being ornery when they win because you did vision properly.
Additionally, there are special matchups that will require more vision investment in key areas. This will be on you to address - Evelyn, Twitch, Zac, Hecarim etc can all come out of blind corners, on the ledge near river bush, and you must respect that mobility by playing in a more reserved fashion, respecting the threat, and warding it regularly. Every time they have to kill a pink where you put it, it costs them time to do it and saves your life - there's little to no chance of you ever over-warding. And this is of course notwithstanding the benefits for YOUR jungle to have that view out there so THEY see where the opposing jungle is.
WARDS WIN AT ALL ELO. I got myself from Bronze V, 0 LP to Gold V in both Solo and Flex Queue last season, and in all those games, my vision score was only beaten once. WARDS WIN GAMES.
Do you want to win? Great! WARD!
3. Use Q Hymn of Valor to poke down the ADC and, if fortunate, also their Support. The catch is, you must be aware of both of their ranges, and to avoid getting caught in the range of each. Trading poke with one or the other is usually fine, but when you start eating damage from both the opposing ADC and Support, you will lose your life rapidly.
4. Take a slow burn approach to winning the lane. You do not and likely cannot all-in at Level 2 and achieve victory. You need them below 50% to proc Dark Harvest, and you being dead isn't worth spamming abilities and losing lane at levels 3 to 4. Take smart trades where you can and be patient!
5. Measures of success - if your ADC is even/evenish with the opposing ADC and your deaths are zero, maybe one, you have likely broken even and/or won the laning phase. Anything more than that, or if their ADC has a significant lead, and you've lost that phase. Notice that I didn't even mention towers here - it's about preparing your ADC and yourself for the next phase of the game. The towers will happen easily when you use good fundamentals to poke with limited risk and avoid losing your life.
DON'T LOSE YOUR LIFE!
Finally, in team battles it is important that you strike the balance between being close enough to heal/shield/buff your team without being available for an initiation from the opponent. Sonas are very juicy targets because if they can wipe your ability to sustain the team, that alone can turn a fight sideways against you. Your champion is the most effective the more times you can survive cooldown and recast your spell set.