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Build Guide by Cymbaline

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Cymbaline

Morgana, Ice Queen

Cymbaline Last updated on August 13, 2010
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Support Role
Ranked #7 in
Support Role
Win 51%
Get More Stats

Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 9

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 0

Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 21

First of all, credit where it is due: I learned Morgana based on the Morgana Prime build, which I then tweaked to create this one. Morgana, Ice Queen focuses on increasing your cooldown reductions (hence Ice Queen. Get it? Get it?) while maintaining high ability power and magic penetration for impressive damage. I've made a few other tweaks, as well.

Ice Queen vs. Prime

The main issue I ran into while playing the Morgana Prime build was that I would come across a lonely hero while I had all of my abilities and all of my mana, and I would nuke the hell out of him or her, taking them down to 10% life in the span of a few seconds. And then, cooldowns blown and the enemy stuck from the second half of Soul Shackles, I'd sit there and plunk away with my ridiculously weak normal attack while I prayed that I could stay near them long enough for my damage dealing abilities to cool down so I could actually finish the kills.

Second, let's be honest with each other: I'm not awesome at LoL. I'm pretty good, and I have more wins than losses, and I usually come out with more combined kills and assists than deaths. But I'm not incredible, I rarely become god-like, and I don't go 12-0-6. I've had a few such games, but most are more like 6-3-12. As such, I've swapped out Mejai's Soulstealer for the Deathfire Grasp because I find the Soulstealer unreliable - it counts on me not dying to really be worthwhile. It's cheaper than the Deathfire for the same amount of cooldown reduction, but it's conditional, and I don't like that. Besides that, getting enough kills and assists to trigger that ability even on a perfectly played 3v3 is rare - most end with surrenders before that. So I prefer Deathfire.

Basic Concepts

For those of you completely new to the character, Morgana is both versatile and powerful. Black Shield is a great defensive support ability, and can save the *** of fleeing (or charging) teammates. Tormented Soil is great for farming waves and is wonderful harassment against heroes in the early game, and isn't negligible against heroes in the late game. Dark Binding is a powerful offensive tool, and is even more powerful as an offensive assist, as it has a long range and can snare, which will stop the flight of enemies long enough for your team to tear them down. Last but not least, Soul Shackles effectively does the same to potentially their entire team.

So, Morgana is great at farming waves, handy on the defensive assist, handy on the offensive assist, and capable of huge burst DPS. The downsides are:

  1. Once she blows her cooldowns, she's a big walking bag of money for the other team
  2. Ditto that once all her mana is blown
  3. She can get absolutely chewed up by melee characters, especially late game

The remedies for those three problems are:
  1. Up cooldown reduction to the cap of 40% to alleviate her large cooldown times (15 seconds on her main nuke)
  2. Take Clarity, get a lot of maximum mana, and pay attention to your remaining mana
  3. Use Black Shield, the snare from Dark Binding, Soul Shackles if necessary, Flash, and a healthy dose of caution to get away

A Little Math

The cooldown cap is 40%, which will take your cooldowns, in seconds, from:
  • Dark Binding - 15 to 9
  • Tormented Soil - 12 to 7.2
  • Black Shield - 15 to 9
  • Soul Shackles - 100 to 60

No, you're not going to be firing off spells constantly, but it helps quite a bit.

The second aspect of the math is where the cooldown reduction is coming from. Since Mobafire doesn't include Masteries in the character summary, I'll explicitly lay it out:
  • 9% Masteries (3% Offense, 6% Utility)
  • 15% Items (Deathfire Grasp)
  • 15.12% Runes (Glyphs and Quintessences)

That puts us at 39.1%, which is close enough to that cap that it's basically there. Glyphs and Quintessences are the way to go for cooldown reduction, because they're weighted more toward it than the only other thing we really care about: ability power. The math there, ratio of cooldown reduction (at 18) per rune to ability power at 18 per rune:
  • Mark - 0.09
  • Seal - 0.16
  • Glyph - 0.29
  • Quintessence - 0.30

So, as you can see, the numbers heavily favor deriving your cooldown reduction from Glyphs and Quintessences, and sticking with ability power for Marks and Seals.

So at this point we're full up on cooldown reduction, which means the bulk of the rest of our spare money and runes can go to ability power. Magic penetration is not to be ignored, but it won't help with things like Black Shield, so we'll give a slight edge to ability power. We can fill out magic penetration with items - use the runes for ability power.

Playing the Character

If you can get a lane by yourself, that's preferable. The only things that should dissuade you from that are bad match ups or being significantly outnumbered. Clearing waves for Morgana is easy and profitable, and with a full build that costs just under 15K (the Mobafire cost for Deathfire Grasp is less than what it really is), that's important. In fact, that's why I bump Tormented Soil up to 5 as soon as possible. With a well placed level 5 soil and a few auto-attacks on the siege machines, you can clear an entire wave of 7 creeps in a few seconds. That's a lot of money. Level 3 Soil will clear out the back row, so make sure to hit them when you've got it to that point.

Thankfully, Morgana's long-ranged attack makes early game (and to a lesser extent, mid to late game) laning pretty safe for her against almost anyone. Just be careful if you're outnumbered, or low on health or mana, or against people who can snare you. Still, don't get greedy and you should be able to stay alive and rake in the cash.

If you're a little wounded, but have mana and aren't in mortal danger, your innate life leech will slowly pull you back to full. It's a nice enough passive, but do not overestimate it. It will not allow you stand toe to toe with a melee character who has life leech, nor will it ever really turn the tide of battle. It's handy, but it's no game changer.

If you're laning with someone else, Dark Binding can be the difference between a wounded enemy getting away and getting killed. If you're laning by yourself, it's the way that you soften up opponents. At level 6, having just gotten your ultimate, you'll likely be just a little too weak to kill a full-health opponent. If you can hit them with one or two Dark Bindings while jousting back and forth, however, you should be able to nuke them into oblivion with a combination of Dark Binding, Soul Shackles, and Tormented Soil. This is also an incredibly useful tool for fleeing, as it will root your pursuer for a couple of seconds while you flee toward the safety of a tower.

Black Shield is also a great tool for fleeing, and as with Dark Binding, it can help both you and an ally make it to safety. The trick is not to pop it as soon as things turns south, or as soon as you start to flee, but to click your movement, hit the hot button, and then hover the cursor over yourself, ready to click as soon as you see an attack start flying at you. Sometimes you do want to use it immediately, yes, but if you start to flee before the pain reaches you, that's not so. The shield does not last anywhere near as long as the cooldown, so use it wisely.

If you've gotten it into your head that you're going to wade into combat (I hope you have friends going ahead of you), it's useful to pop this ahead of time. Likewise, it's not a bad idea to throw it down on your melee friend as he's going in. Better the DPS melee guy than the tank, though - the primary ability of the shield is not damage mitigation, but snare and debuff mitigation.

Soul Shackles is your ultimate, and it's a great ability, but it's not as straightforward or pure damage as some. There are a few important points about it. First, that it slows the enemy, which, with Dark Binding, gives you two ways to keep an enemy in Tormented Soil. Second, that it's an AoE of sorts. Third, that it requires that you be alive for four seconds for half of the damage to take.

Let's look at number two and three, shall we? Remember: you are not a tank. You don't have a lot of health or armor, and you will get masticated and spit out by melees, especially late game. You might think that it's a sweet idea to wade into a pool of five enemies and trigger your ultimate, and you might think that it might net you a lot of kills, gold, and respect, but you would be wrong. Many times I have been overcome by the lure of multiple simultaneous kills, or the thought of an incredible burst of AoE damage, and thus I have tried the wade-in-and-trigger-the-ultimate approach to dealing death. It has never, ever, worked. Remember, as soon as you trigger that ultimate, it's going to hit everyone in range, slow everyone down, and draw a bunch of big glowy lines from you to them as you wait for the second half of your ultimate's damage. They are going to kill you. It will happen before your second burst hits, each and every time. Don't do this.

This is a great ability to pop when you're going into a 3v3 scrum with some friends. It's great to pop one on one. It's even great to pop when you're desperately trying to flee. It is a much less great idea to wade into a group of five enemies, even with friends, and attempt to stay in range to get that second half of the damage.

If you catch an enemy alone and in the open, and you think you can take him, the thing to do, in my estimation, is:
  1. Pop him with Deathfire Grasp's active
  2. Hit him with Dark Binding
  3. Hit him with Tormented Soil
  4. Hit him with Soul Shackles
  5. Hit yourself with Black Shield if he's hitting you at all
  6. Stay in range - and hopefully keep him in the Soil - as the timer counts down from four seconds to zero
  7. Hit him with standard melee attacks (yuck) as you wait for your cooldowns on Dark Binding and Tormented Soil to expire (should be about 3 and 1 seconds, respectively
  8. Hit him with Tormented Soil
  9. Hit him with Dark Binding
  10. If at this point he's at 5% or less health, hit him with melee attacks
  11. If at this point he's not almost dead, run, because you're screwed, and you picked the wrong fight

This should take out almost anyone but a tank. Be very careful about picking fights with melee monsters like Warwick and Sion, particularly late game, as they can come back from 10% and still destroy you if your cooldowns are all shot.


Items are pretty simple for Morgana. Outside of the obligatory movement item and the cooldown item required for this build to work, it's all about ability power, ability power, ability power. Magic penetration, mana, and mana regen are also wonderful, but they're almost incidental.

Sometimes purchasing the components for a lot of different items is a better idea than going full out on each item. For this build, I don't think that's the case - finish one item after the other. You mostly want them for their unique passives, so it doesn't help to buy all the ability power components first and then slowly convert them to the optimal items. Additionally, the order in which you buy component items within the big item doesn't matter too much. I usually get whatever I can afford when I'm back at base.

Doran's Ring is, like all of Doran's gear, a great starter item. Ability power, health, and mana regen - what's not to like? Two of those three will help you lane longer, and the last will make it more likely that you get killing hits on minions with Tormented Soil. The optimal build requires selling this right before getting the last item, but you might reach the optimal build in one game out of fifty, which is why it's worth taking this to begin with. Most of the time, the early game is more important than the theoretical late game.

This is something of a "no duh" second item. You need some kind of shoes, and the ones with magic penetration are the only ones that make sense.

I get the Archangel's Staff early on both so that the unique passive will have time to stack, and because it's very well rounded. Ability power, mana, mana regen, more ability power, and more mana. The only thing it's missing is magic penetration. Additionally, I believe this item falls more in the 2800 range, rather than the 2260 that Mobafire is currently displaying.

This is the item that rounds out the cooldown portion of this build, and thus is essential. The unique active is also extremely useful - don't forget it's there! And use it as early as possible, too. I'm guilty of forgetting about the active most of the time, but it really is a lot of damage. As with the Staff, I believe the real cost of this is around 2100 rather than 1350.

This is an excellent and relatively cheap item that really helps round out the build. It has a lot of ability power and has pretty massive magic penetration. Note: that's 40 percent magic penetration, not 40 magic penetration. They are two different things.

You will probably never get this far in the build, unless you're in a long 5v5 or are absolutely facerolling. It goes without saying that Zhonya's Ring is massively powerful, and has a pretty sweet active, too. Of course, it's also massively expensive, so hey.

This is the odd item on the build that can easily be swapped out for whatever you want. Again, though: you'll never get this far. The ability power it offers is significant, but the health, while nice, isn't something you should be shooting for, and the unique passive is kind of redundant. One of your spells is a snare, another is defensive, and another already slows, so you're not getting much out of that slowing effect. Still, I think it probably beats the other options.

Speaking of, some of the other options are:

Not a bad choice - high ability power, magic penetration (more or less), and high magic defense. Particularly worth considering if you're against a magic-heavy team. The downside is that it's costly.

If I really wanted the name of this build to make sense, I guess I would have gone for this item. And, hey, that 25% cooldown reduction is massive, and will help you hit the cap of 40% before you turn summoner level 30. The mana is nice, too, but the armor is worthless, and this item has no ability power. I think you can do better elsewhere.

It's got most of the right stats, extra health doesn't hurt, and it's cheap. The only problem is that there are better items out there.

The spell vamp might be enticing, but half of the stats on this are wasted, and it's not cheap. I wouldn't bother.

Also not a bad choice, as it has all the right stats, and the unique passive isn't bad, even if doesn't exactly play to your strengths. The downside here, again, is price.

Okay, this is where we need to sit down and have an honest conversation, you and I. This is a very tempting item, in ways - only 1235 gold, and potentially an incredible 180 (180!) ability power, as well as 15% cooldown reduction. The downsides, of course, are that if you die, it's not worth much, and you have to get it early and kill often for it to reach its potential. This is where the honesty comes into play: how often do you get 10 kills or 20 assists or some combination thereof in a row without dying? Be honest. How often does it happen? How many of those kills or assists are before you purchase this item, wherever you slot it into the build order (it's all but worthless at the end of the item list)?

The thing about Mejai's Soulstealer is that it's a momentum item. If you're kicking ***, it'll help you kick more ***. If you're getting your *** kicked, it's not going to help you at all. Personally, I find kicking even more *** than I already am fun, but when a game is so lopsided that I've hit the cap of 20 stacks for Mejai's, I don't need it to win. I'd rather go with something that always helps me out and costs a little bit more. I also wouldn't depend on the 15% cooldown from the max bonus on this to hit the cooldown cap.

This is the most you dependent item choice in the build. If you really think you can get enough stacks on for this item to be worth it, go for it. Slot it in after the Deathfire, or even earlier, and forget about Rylai's. But if you're good enough with Morgana to make proper use of Mejai's, well... you probably don't need this guide in the first place.

Not a bad choice, but the only issue here is that it's expensive and needs fifteen minutes to reach its full potential.

Summoner Spells

Clarity is what keeps you from being a sitting duck when you run out of mana. In fact, if you're crafty enough, you can use it to lure a low-life attacker into coming for you, and then pop it and your ultimate for an easy kill. For a character that lives and dies by mana, this is an easy choice. Don't be afraid to use it, either.

Flash, along with Black Shield and Dark Binding, is what keeps you alive. It's always most effective when used to teleport through a wall, thus giving you a far better chance of escape. Don't forget that it can be used offensively, too!

Some other choices:

I only mention it to say that I wouldn't bother. Properly used, Black Shield should mostly negate the need for Cleanse.

Not a bad spell, either, and actually a good one for getting away from pursuing heroes, particularly melee ones. That said, you already have plenty of slow-and-stop spells, so it's not that useful.

A good low level replacement for Flash. This, too, can be used offensively.

Heal is something of a safety blanket that I might recommend for newer players, not to mention ones that don't have Flash yet. It'll help keep you alive, it'll help keep your teammates alive - it's always useful.

Not a bad choice either, as it can help put you over the edge if you're close to killing a hero, and it'll shut down people with massive regeneration bursts, like Mundo. More damage to heroes is never a bad thing.


There's virtually nothing to say here - the ones outlined above are pretty much essential, and there really aren't any good alternatives. By all means, float the Deadliness and Good Hands ones around as you see fit. Anything that's not maxed out is negotiable.

The Finer Details

Dark Binding is your barometer for kill potential. Hit a potential victim with one, and see how much damage it does. 5% or less of their full health, and you shouldn't try to solo the hero. 5% to 10% and it's going to be very dicey, and you'd better have that Deathfire Grasp handy for the first shot. More than 10% and you have a good chance. 20% should have you grinning in anticipation - that should be an easy, four second at most, kill.

Knowing when to run and when to assist are crucial aspects of playing the game, not just Morgana. Master them early. Some good times to run include:
  • When you're outnumbered
  • When you're low on health
  • When you're low on mana
  • When you're far from one of your turrets and two of the opposing heroes have disappeared from the closest lane

Times to assist include when the enemy should run.

That's kind of basic, how-you-play-the-game stuff, and you have to learn it by playing. There are contradictions to the above situations, too, like if you're alone against two almost-dead opponents and your ultra is up. Wade in and pop it. Those, too, you'll have to learn by playing.

That said, cautious will almost always beat greedy.

Don't forget about your active abilities on Deathfire and, if you get it, Zhonya's.

Running with a melee ganker like Warwick is a wonderful thing, due primarily to your Dark Binding. Use it, and use it well.

You can take out turrets, but you're not awesome at it. Plan accordingly.

Once again, you mutilate creep waves solo, which will yield tons of experience and money, which will make you monstrous. Try and see to it that you get your own lane.

Don't be a ****. Basic rule of life, but one that lots of LoL players ignore. Be cool to your teammates, be cool to your opponents, and you'll end up with more victories and more friends. Remember: it's just a game.

I'll be happy to answer any question in the comments, as well.