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Janna Build Guide by Rydog
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Janna is one of the purest support champions in League of Legends, which means that she excels at providing combat utility and helping her teammates control the map. Janna is not an effective burst caster or sustained-damage carry; some players run Janna with these types of gimmick builds, and they're always poor substitutes for champions that specialize in those roles.
You should treat Janna as a mobile gank deterrent. Every one of her skills is effective at stalling enemy champions and providing powerful cover for your teammates. Spell placement and timing is very important to skilled Janna play; she is far more nuanced than more straightforward "babysitter" support champions like Soraka and Taric. In my opinion, her skill ceiling is significantly higher.
Finally, Janna's high mobility and modest item dependency makes her an ideal champion to track enemy movement. A good Janna player should ward everywhere, and expect to devote a significant chunk of their already-meager gold intake to wards and Oracle's Elixir.
Janna is the team's behind-the-scenes orchestrator. What she lacks in champion kills, she typically makes up for in impressive assist numbers and overall ***-saving. Played well, Janna won't carry a team to victory in the traditional sense, but she will act as the team's central nervous system, route coordinator, and combat tide-turner. Shrewd Janna play wins games.
This guide describes how to play Janna on Summoner's Rift. She is a comparatively poor pick on Twisted Treeline (meta emphasizes steady full-team ambushes and tanky, health-stacked melee champions) and Crystal Scar (meta emphasizes heavy-damage champions, and deemphasizes support roles, high sustainability, and farming dynamics).
Special thanks to Zirun and s0ma for their own excellent Janna guides, which have obviously and heavily influenced my own Janna tactics. Also, props to JHOIJHOI's MOBAFire guide tutorial for helpful coding advice and layout templates.
This guide is current as of the November 29, 2011 patch (League of Legends v126.96.36.199 -- Volibear patch).
A 0/6/24 mastery build is ideal for Janna. The Utility tree floods her with mana and health regen, buffs her movement speed and experience gain (the Sage mastery is particularly valuable for support champions), and gives her some decent cooldown reduction and a slight ward radius extension (you want to be droppinglots of wards). The remaining six points go to the Defense tree for a bit of added early-game durability.
Janna unquestionably benefits from scaling mana regen seals (Clarity) and either scaling or flat cooldown reduction glyphs (Celerity/Focus). Newer players might want to start with flat health quintessences (Fortitude) for the added durability, though I recommend movement speed quintessences (Swiftness) once you learn to exercise a proper level of caution. Marks are a bit trickier, as nothing stands out as an absolute optimal choice for Janna; I personally use flat armor marks (Resilience), but you also can't really go wrong with flat magic resist marks (Warding).
In serious play, Clairvoyance is a must on any support champion. Shrewd Clairvoyance application can prevent ganks, disrupt jungling routes, or turn the tide of an otherwise risky teamfight. The second spell choice is slightly more flexible, but the current meta makes Flash a very useful pick. Its escape applications are obvious, and you can also use it to position yourself for a clutch Monsoon (trust me, it feels good when you fling the enemy carry into your team's tower). That said, Heal, Ghost, and Cleanse are decent picks too, but I believe Clairvoyance + Flash is the strongest combo.
Tailwind: Janna's passive. A 3% team-wide movement speed buff, for as long as Janna is alive. Small, but valuable. Janna helps you dodge ganks even when she isn't around!
Howling Gale (Q): A delayed skillshot projectile that travels in a straight line and briefly knocks anything it hits into the air. It has a very long range, and you don't have to wait for it to charge -- you can (and often should) launch it immediately by double-tapping Q. An excellent zoning tool.
Zephyr (W): Passively increases Janna's movement speed and removes unit collision, effectively acting as a mini Ghost. Its active component is a targeted projectile that slows its target. Janna loses the passive benefit for as long as this skill remains on cooldown.
Eye Of The Storm (E): A single-target buff that provides a small damage shield and increased attack damage. At rank 5, the attack damage bonus is equivalent to a B. F. Sword. This spell can target towers.
Monsoon (R): Janna's ultimate. An instant area-of-effect knockback with a wide radius, centered on Janna's current position. Janna also applies a channeled four-second heal to nearby teammates. The knockback interrupts channeled spells.
You should prioritize Monsoon, Eye Of The Storm, Zephyr, and finally Howling Gale, in that order -- generally grabbing one rank of Howling Gale at level 2 (though if you're about to get into a level 1 teamfight, take Howling Gale first).
Eye Of The Storm provides valuable early-game protection and farm assistance; at rank 5, its +50 attack damage bonus is the equivalent of lending the target a B. F. Sword. Your all-consuming objective in the laning phase is to protect your partner (ideally an AD carry) and help them farm as much gold as possible -- and Eye Of The Storm is your most powerful tool for doing so.
Zephyr passively grants additional movement speed and removes Janna's unit collision, and also allows her to snare fleeing targets (and deter advancing ones in a pinch). Howling Gale is useful for its area-of-effect knock-up, and you really shouldn't be using it to deal damage or farm minions; it's a solid one-point wonder, which is why I advise leaving it for last. And finally, Monsoon is amazing, and you should level it whenever you can, as the scaling heal can aid escapes.
Janna's items should emphasize gold generation, cooldown reduction, movement speed, mana regen, durability (i.e. armor/magic resist/health/health regen), and late-game team auras. Janna should not devote significant resources to ability power, as she is not a powerful damage-dealer; her primary team contributions are crowd control and gank deterrence. The current bottom lane support/AD carry meta necessitates leaving as many last-hits as possible for your lane partner, which means that support champions end games with very low creep scores (mine are often in the single-digits or teens) -- hence, you need to earn the majority of your gold from items. Fortunately, Janna isn't very item-dependent, so you can build her very cost-effectively.
Starting Items (475 gold total): You could make a perfectly valid argument for starting with one of the Doran's items ( Doran's Ring, if you must) -- but I feel that once you learn how to handle the laning phase with as few mistakes as possible, an early ward advantage far outstrips the durability you gain from Doran's items. A Faerie Charm affords you a little bit of extra mana regen (though mana conservation is key at any rate), and Health Potion can help you recover from early-game damage.
1) Faerie Charm (180 gold)
2) Health Potion x2 (70 gold)
3) Sight Ward Sight Ward x3 (225 gold)
Core Build (2,895 gold total, plus wards): This core item build is pretty rigid; I personally always fill my first three item slots in the same order no matter what, while budgeting for as many wards as possible. It's also very cheap and cost-effective, for the reasons noted above. Once you have your Ionian Boots of Lucidity and gold generation items, grab an Oracle's Elixir and start keeping an eye out for enemy wards. Don't ever shop without buying at least one Sight Ward or Vision Ward of your own (and ideally 2-3 at minimum) -- and never, ever leave yourself without a ward slot. Note that Mercury's Treads might be a good substitute for Ionian Boots of Lucidity, but I prefer the cooldown to the tenacity. If you get focused, you're probably dead anyway -- and if you're doing your job right and warding the map, that should rarely happen.
1) Sight Ward Sight Ward (75 gold) or Vision Ward (125 gold), as necessary
2) Philosopher's Stone Philosopher's Stone (620 gold, upgraded from Faerie Charm)
3) Boots of Speed (350 gold)
4) Heart of Gold (825 gold)
5) Ionian Boots of Lucidity (700 gold, upgraded from Boots of Speed)
6) Oracle's Elixir (400 gold)
Luxury Items (approx. 7.8k - 9k gold): I've listed these items alphabetically, as they're per-game judgment calls and not a strict build. Since team auras are very beneficial, I generally advise building an Aegis of the Legion before upgrading the gold generation items. Overall, enemy team composition should inform your item choices at this stage; build any defensive items to counter the dominant types of damage. Again, don't leave yourself without a ward slot, and don't prioritize any of these items over buying wards. These are luxury items, so treat them as such. In a typical Summoner's Rift game, you won't get far beyond finishing an Aegis of the Legion or Shurelya's Reverie (or whatever you choose to build first).
Abyssal Scepter (2,650 gold)
Aegis of the Legion (1,925 gold)
Banshee's Veil (2,715 gold)
Randuin's Omen (2,250 gold, upgraded from Heart of Gold)
Shurelya's Reverie (1,400 gold, upgraded from Philosopher's Stone)
Soul Shroud (2,285 gold)
Stark's Fervor (2,550 gold)
Janna should always occupy the bottom lane, preferably with an AD-centric teammate. Mages and tanks cannot capitalize on Eye Of The Storm as effectively, hence it is always more advantageous to pair Janna with an AD carry who can benefit from the considerable farming support that Janna provides. This is what you should always look for and request in a lane partner.
You can and should use your Clairvoyance spell twice before engaging the first minion wave; try to pin down the enemy jungler's starting location with your first Clairvoyance, and check the brush with your second one (never walk into the brush blindly). Once the laning phase starts, keep at least one Sight Ward in your lane as consistently as possible. Both sets of side brush and the river brush are ideal ward spots; don't drop all of your wards at once, but use them as necessary to maintain a side brush positioning advantage. Throughout the laning phase, you should be popping Clairvoyance on the river brush whenever you get close to crossing over it (unless you've got it warded). Unless you can see the enemy jungler, always assume a gank is coming from that brush. If a stealth champion is on the map, buy a Vision Ward as necessary (buy one at the outset if an enemy Shaco is jungling).
Your ideal position during the laning phase is in the side brush, nearest your tower (though be careful if the enemy team counter-wards). From here, you can maintain relative safety, popping out to harass enemy champions with ranged autoattacks when it is reasonably safe to do so. Do not last-hit a minion unless your carry cannot reach it in time, and do not use your Howling Gale on minion waves unless you need to protect your tower or push the lane.
You and your partner should strive to keep the minion waves in this relative location, in front of your tower-side brush, which affords the AD carry maximum safety, and forces your enemies to expose themselves to jungle ganks. Your partner should focus on farming, stopping only to capitalize on serious enemy mistakes; use Eye Of The Storm to guard against enemy harassment (learn to quickly counter-cast it when you see projectiles aimed at your partner), and use Howling Gale and Zephyr for crowd control. You should attempt to conserve your mana for emergencies.
Of course, not every laning phase is quite so ideal; some champion combinations just won't give you the space to farm safely. If you're up against a high-pressure enemy duo, you and your partner should stay near your tower and play as conservatively as possible, as staying alive and healthy is far more important than risking death for a last-hit. In this situation, capitalize on the enemy's poor positioning, and try to coordinate a gank with your jungler. If this isn't possible, tread water for as long as you need to, until someone else is free to help you. As long as you're staying even -- keeping yourselves and your tower healthy, while helping your partner to score as many last-hits as possible -- you should be able to bounce back. And remember: Eye Of The Storm works on towers, too.
Use all of your crowd control skills as necessary to deter ganks and reduce the cost of mistakes; a double-tapped Howling Gale is especially effective for creating distance, and a Monsoon can easily deter a surprise jungle gank. If you're really in trouble without a lot of options (or you're out of mana)... well, that's what Flash is for.
Being in the bottom lane, you should also maintain control over the dragon. It initially spawns at 2:30, and always respawns six minutes after someone kills it. Use Clairvoyance to monitor the dragon and keep the enemy jungler from taking it, and coordinate with your lane partner and jungler to engage the dragon whenever it is safe to do so (i.e. you've killed your lane enemies, put them at an extreme health disadvantage, and/or forced them back to base). If dragon is down and you have an advantage (lane enemies dead or critical, with all other enemy champions accounted for), push the lane in and drop the tower.
Once the laning phase is more-or-less over and the two teams have started roaming in large groups, your primary goal is threefold: Keep your team's most valuable damage-dealer (examine the scoreboard often to ascertain this) alive, prevent ganks, and maintain a map awareness advantage. By this point, you should have your boots and gold generation items; buy as many wards as you can afford, and grab a teammate to help you place them.
Remember: You are the Sight Ward master. Ward everywhere! Ward the dragon, ward Baron Nashor, ward as many lizard and golem camps as possible, ward various inner-river brush spots, ward the outer river borders, and ward the large brush patches near the inner towers. Keep an Oracle's Elixir active, and destroy as many enemy wards as possible. Use your Clairvoyance on key un-warded locations (AKA possible nearby ambush spots), every time it's off cooldown. In short, do everything you can to maintain awareness of enemy positioning. Keep track of dragon spawn times, and steer your team toward it whenever it's safe to do so. If the game's getting up there in time, and the enemy team is mysteriously absent, it's a good sign that you should check Baron Nashor (which, of course, you should have warded).
Fellow summoner studio6 has created an excellent visual warding guide. It's too large to embed here, but you should definitely study it.
When it comes time to fight (hopefully on your team's terms, if you've done a good job with your Sight Ward placement and Clairvoyance), you should stay in the back and let the big guys lead the charge. You should strive to stay on the periphery of combat, as you're a squishy and high-priority target. Keep the aforementioned team MVP shielded with Eye Of The Storm, toss a Howling Gale into the fray (generally in the direction of their highest damage-dealer) whenever it's up, and use Zephyr to snare enemy carries who try to run for it. If your team is giving chase and Clairvoyance is ready, try to proactively pop it in the brush as your prey runs through it. I've won plenty of teamfights with a clutch Clairvoyance; your team will thank you for it.
And when a fight goes south -- or if you see someone caught out-of-position somewhere -- make every attempt to keep your teammates alive. Trip pursuers up with a well-aimed Howling Gale or Zephyr, shield a compromised teammate with Eye Of The Storm, use Monsoon for a decisive knockback, or pull out all the stops if the situation necessitates it. Janna's mere presence in a risky situation should ensure that people make it out alive.
On that note, you must learn how to use Monsoon effectively; your placement of this skill will make or break your Janna play, as a botched casting can actively harm your team. To be very clear about this skill's mechanics: It knocks enemy units back in a very wide radius, and applies a channeled heal-over-time to nearby allies for four seconds. In practice, you'll rarely pop it for the heal (though that can sometimes help sustain your team during a post-ace push). The radius knockback is what makes Monsoon so useful -- but position it wrong, and you could knock enemy champions right into a near-dead teammate.
You should primarily employ Monsoon as an escape tool, to scatter a group of pursuers who are closing in from the same approximate direction (or to disrupt channeled ultimates from champions like Amumu and Nunu & Willump, who this spell utterly counters). You can also use it (sometimes in combination with Flash) offensively, to throw an enemy carry into your team or your tower. Using Monsoon as a general panic button in the middle of an unfavorable teamfight might work out, but it stands just as high a chance of failing miserably... or making things worse. If a late-game ace might put your inhibitors on the line, it's best to wait for the dust to settle before you start Monsooning everything. Bottom line: You need to be able to make optimal snap judgments on where and when to use Monsoon without compromising your teammates.
I leave you with the most awesome Janna video guide ever made (not mine, and his item priorities are a bit different and suboptimal for the current meta -- but it was definitely an inspiration). Thanks for reading, and if you found my guide valuable, please upvote and comment. I welcome constructive criticism.
November 29, 2011 (LoL v188.8.131.52): Guide published and edited into shape. It's my first MOBAFire guide, so hopefully the formatting is to everyone's liking!