Karma Build Guide by Chrys_Barber
Never Fear Change │ Invincible Top Lane KarmaBy Chrys_Barber | Updated on February 18, 2019
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+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
Im Chrys, a "veteran" player since Season 2. Although I main support, I do play all roles. I have decided to write my first guide about Tank Karma though, as I consider her to be one of the most versatile Top lane champions. Her sustain (W), as well as her ability to strenghten her team and turn teamfights upside down makes her a huge powerbank.
+ Huge survivability
+ Great sustained damage
+ A lot of poke and slows with Inner Flame
+ Can carry the team as protective role
+ Not hard to learn
+ Literally unkillable
- Mana hungry early game
- Needs core items for full potential
- You can get flamed in champion pick
- Can be shut down by anti-healing
- Can get a bit boring
- Needs good decision-making
Rune page 1 - Recommended
Nimbus Cloak - this became the obvious choice after The Ultimate Hat got removed (sadly) from Sorcery. This rune benefits you greatly too, especially position-wise. The burst of movement speed after using your Mantra gives you even more mobility to run around in teamfights or outplay lane opponents. Building CDR reduces the cooldown of Nimbus Cloak, so keep that in mind.
Transcendence - as the build itself has 40% CDR, you are not going to get the 40% that fast. This should help you, while also making use of any excess CDR.
Scorch - great for poking and burning down your opponent early.
Revitalize - your W and E are buffed a bit by this. Plus, it can save some of your teammates.
Shield Bash - helps you with trades in the lane greatly and scales well with your health/shield power items.
- Other possibilities :
Conditioning - Provides the resistances you need. Perfect after your itemization is complete.
Bone Plating - the rune is great for shutting down all-in champions.
Why do I not run Inspiration tree?
Many players try Tank Karma with Kleptomancy. I do not see the reason, as you do not benefit AS much AS you could from other runes. You will not need to farm your gold for lategame and you will hit your powerspike soon enough either way. Having few runes, which you cannot use teamfight-wise is just a waste.
Kleptomancy has been significantly nerfed in 8.2 and has greatly decreased drop rate until 15 minutes and even worse drop rate for ranged champions after 15 minutes + lower sell values. Currently, I do not believe the rune page has any bigger potential for Karma.
I could take Inspiration tree as the secondary one, but imho it just provides less value than the Resolve tree. 5%CDR is nice, right. Free boots are fine too, yeah. I just do not see anything that strenghtens your kit and gameplay overall. In the long run, you are going to realise, how useful it is to have the versatility my rune page provides.
You will use heals, shields, protect your allies and not care about getting that extra gold on basic attack. You are not here to carry alone. Do not be a lone wolf and play for your team. This also applies for any champion you play.
Refreshes 2/3/4 seconds of Mantra's cooldown whenever you hit an enemy champion with spell, and half of that amount whenever you hit them with basic attack.
This is what makes Karma so versatile. Within the next 8 seconds after casting this, you can cast an empowered ability.
Great farming tool and really good poking spell with high damage.
Fires a blast of energy that explodes on enemy contact dealing magic damage to enemies in the area and slowing them for 1.25 seconds.
When empowered, deals extra magic damage and leaves a circle of flame at the impact area or upon reaching maximum range, slowing enemies. After 1.5 seconds, the circle erupts, dealing magic damage to enemies in the area.
This is what you save Mantra for most of the time.
Karma forms a tether to target enemy champion, revealing and dealing magic damage over 2 seconds (one tick at the start of the cast and one at the end). Gathering Fire is applied every time this ability damages. If the tether is not broken after the 2 seconds, the target is rooted for 1-2 seconds.
When empowered, increases the duration of the root by 0.5-1.25 seconds and heals Karma for 20% (+1% per 100AP) of her missing health immediately plus another 20% (+1% per 100AP) of her missing health if the tether remains unbroken.
Great for escapes, survivability and when empowered, it can boost your whole team in teamfights a lot.
Karma shields target ally for 4 seconds and grants the target bonus movement speed for 1.5 seconds.
When empowered - increases the target's shield amount. Allied champions gain 30% of that amount as a shield, and are also hasted by 40-60%.
+2x - this is the best start, as it provides some ap, hp and a lot of mana sustain.
-8.9 Changes made Doran's Ring a lot worse sustain-wise. Now I also consider taking:
+3x - as an aggressive start with some ap, mana and sustain.
- for even more sustain AND a great buff to your poke early.
Always go for
- 20%CDR, chunk of armor and mana, also the Sheen procs with slow, giving you a lot of time to auto-attack and cast abilities while enemies are slowed - therefore your Mantra gets refreshed faster.
- Health and health regen, magic resist, another 10%CDR and to top it all, 30% increased self-healing, what gives Tank Karma the survivability she needs. Also, it stacks with other effects.
or - I usually go for Ardent Censer for a little bit of bonus damage and team-buffing. Especially, if you have an ADC like Kog'Maw , Twitch, Varus, etc. which need a lot of attack speed to dominate, this is the best pick. On the other hand, Redemption is more sustain based - as the Active effect can save you, or your teammates, even after you DIE.
Both of these items have +10% healing and shielding power, which is great for your kit too. You can even combine both of those items together in your build, to be even more helpful to your team.
- I usually take those just to sell them later. Early, it gives you some CDR to get that 40% faster and later on in the game you can sell them to get some armor or magic resist. Otherwise, if you keep them, it can give you some AP from Transcendence.
- Magic resist and 30% tenacity is great, as you are going to move around teamfights a lot and making the CC on you reduced helps that case.
- Against heavy ad / auto-attack teams, when you want to block the 12% of auto-attacks and also get some armor for survivability.
Situational - your choice
- a great pick for health, ability power and a huge over-time buff to your damage, especially against tankier targets. Works well with your poke.
8.4 changes made this item incredibly strong in the long run - it is very easy to abuse the new passive with the kit Karma has.
- against healing-heavy lane opponents or team comps.
- against ad teams or auto-attack based champions.
- resistances and shield as addition to your
Inspire to make those teamfights even easier.
- binding to your team's carry works well with your ability to enter teamfights quickly and be in the middle of the chaos, surviving.
- resistances, health regen, movement speed arount turrets and a nice ability to push lanes over the course of game.
- the ability-block is nice, yet the new Banshee's Veil does not provide health anymore, so now it is better when you want to pick up some damage against heavy magic damage comps.
- health and armor, critical strikes damage reduction on your Tank Karma and some nice passive attack speed slow to anyone who decides to hit you. Active is great for chasing and can help the course of any teamfight.
- health, mana, magic resist and CDR, all of which helps your kit greatly. Sustain after spamming spells (and you are going to do that a lot) and the Aura is especially good if your team has a lot of magic damage. Also great against heavy magic damage teams.
- radius of aura has been nerfed in 8.6 but the magic damage amplifier has been increased by 5% (to 15%). The item is still useful, as you will be in the middle of teamfights.
- ap, mana regeneration, movement speed and an active that benefits the team? Sign me up.
Medium - Hard
This can be a tough matchup, as Cho'Gath is one of the few champions you cannot kill, nor outscale. His sustain is great, his CC is hitting hard and he is tanky enough to eat all of your damage without blinking an eye. You can outtrade him early, as your damage is pretty high itself, yet he will outscale you very soon. Ask for a gank and do not overpush - Cho'Gath can set up ganks easily.
I am not as certain about this one, yet counting these few times I have played this matchup, I do not feel like it is a hard one. Poke whenever she tries to farm and stay behind your minions, so she will not be able to use Test of Spirit on you. With your movement speed from Phase Rush and Inspire, you should be able to dodge her tentacles and poke her down. Kill her tentacles whenever you can - or whenever you want to bait her into a fight, as Illaoi players usually try to defend those, if they are nearby.
Easy - Medium
The matchup got better in the recent patches.
Deny his farm, poke whenever possible. If he starts a fight with you, your spells should be enough to lock him down and along with Phase Rush, it is nearly imposible for him to lock YOU down. He outscales you in the late game but still, your sustain and protection is way too much for this guy to handle.
Easy - Medium
Most of the time, she will try to dodge or negate your Inner Flame with her Valor, yet our Q has 3 seconds shorter cooldown, so abuse that.
A good Riven player will not recklessly fight you head on before getting an advantage.
Early, use your poke as much as you can after baiting out Valor with your autoattacks.
Whenever she tries to run up you pre-6, you can simply use Inspire to negate damage and Focused Resolve to lock her down, followed by Mantra+ Inner Flame combo.
You should have the upper hand when she hits level 6 and dominate the lane with your Mantra+ Focused Resolve heal whenever she decides to burn you down with her ultimate. If you anyhow fell behind, just can always ask for the help of your jungler whenever you let her push.
He cannot outtrade you early and you can punish him for every minion he tries to take.
Use Inspire whenever he throws Mega Adhesive at you to get out of it and continue to poke and slow him whenever he tries to walk up to you. Abuse your Mantra and Inner Flame early and save your Focused Resolve in mid game - when Singed uses his ultimate you can easily escape after rooting him and heal up. You will be able to push him under the tower early and mid game, so get a Control Ward for river vision.
You cannot go wrong here, as the kit Trundle has is not going to endanger you, if you keep distance from him and poke.
Whenever he uses Frozen Domain to speed himself up and Pillar of Ice to stop and slow you, you can just Mantra+ Inner Flame to slow him and Inspire to speed yourself up - resulting in one-sided trades in your favor. Do not overpush too far, as jungler might screw your advantage up.
A skill match-up, even though I believe you are to have the upper hand. There are many Yasuo mains and he has a high pick percentage, yet a good Yasuo is hard to find nowadays. Trade-wise, you should start the trade with Focused Resolve, as it often baits out his Wind Wall, but it does not stop you from snaring him, as your Focused Resolve is not a projectile. Without the windwall, it is easy to poke him out with autoattacks and your Inner Flame. Beware of the enemy jungler though, as he might want to help Yasuo get fed. Do not underestimate his scaling, as your damage falls off. Get Ninja Tabi to reduce his damage output against you and Randuin's Omen to make his critical hits hurt less.
Swain depends heavily on his skillshots (and soul fragments) and you are mobile enough to not only dodge them, but also counterattack and win trades.
Early, your poke is just far better and your CC is far more reliable, as your Focused Resolve is a single target spell. Later in the game, Swain can be a hard one to fight against, so get a lot of magic resist. Morellonomicon is a great choice against him.
The thing with this big guy is that most of his power comes from prolonged fights, where he can make use of his passive. Even if getting crushed in lane, he can get it back with just a little bit of underestimating in teamfights. With that said, your laning phase and teamfights should be focused on making him hurt less by zoning, kiting and making sure he does not get to you and your team for free. Everything comes to your positioning. Whenever he wastes his Apprehend (which has a huge cooldown), poke him down. Also, stacking health items works well against his true damage from Noxian Guillotine.
Created - 9th November 2017
//10th November 2017
- changes to some of the recommended items
//11th November 2017
- added item description
//17th November 2017
//26th November 2017
//5th December 2017
-minor update, match-ups WIP
//12th January 2018
-added few matchups
//16th January 2018
-second rune page added
//29th January 2018
//11th February 2018
-8.3 Changes did not affected Karma, just to point this out.
//14th February 2018
-Change in the runes section and reasoning for not using Inspiration runes.
//22nd February 2018
-minor update for 8.4 Changes, did not affect the build as much though.
//5th March 2018
-minor runes, item and matchups update
//11th March 2018
-8.5 did not affect Karma at all, yet I am meeting a lot more Dariuses and Swains now, so expect matchups soon.
//26th March 2018
-8.6 Changes to runes and items - Mirror Shell and Iron Skin have been removed, Abyssal Mask got minor changes.
//16th April 2018
-8.7 did not affect Karma or this build.
//28th April 2018
-8.8 did not (again) affect Karma - the build is still viable and fun to play!
//24th May 2018
-8.9 and 8.10 have affected the starting items - minor update of these.
//8th June 2018
-8.11 Changes added to items and runes. Rest in peace, The Ultimate Hat.
//24th June 2018
//9th July 2018
-8.13 did not affect Karma and the build is still very viable. Added two more matchups.
//23rd July 2018
-in 8.14, Karma got some changes. Her starting armor got buffed, that benefits this build greatly! Early, her mana sustain is better and her inner fire has a bit bigger explosion radius now / even tho combined with Mantra, it deals a bit less damage early game.
//16th August 2018
-8.15 and 8.16 did not affect this build and it is very viable. Even though Scorch has half the damage now, the cooldown was also lowered to 10s, what benefits our poke-based laning even more.
//20th November 2018
-8.23 already and the build is still very viable. Karma has been buffed few times, and the new rune Shield Bash is great with this playstyle. Looking good!
-I also want to apologise for not updating the guide through the last few patches due to lack of time. I will probably update the guide slightly every now and then.
//10th December 2018
-minor chapter updates, 8.24 changes did not affect this build.
//5th February 2019
-the build is still very viable and the last few patched helped it too. For example, Shield Bash and Forbidden Idol got buffed, both being used in the build
//18th February 2019
-none of the changes affected this build, plus some of the matchups ( Aatrox, Irelia) are somewhat easier now, after the nerfs.
Over a year ago, I created this guide, not expecting much. By now, it has over 600k views and mostly positive feedback! I would never expect my favourite playstyle to get this much love! Thank you guys!
Looking forward to your feedback!