Karma Build Guide by Chrys_Barber
Never Fear Change │ Invincible Top Lane KarmaBy Chrys_Barber | Updated on January 26, 2021
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Runes: Phase Rush (Recommended)
++8 ability haste
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
++8 ability haste
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
++8 ability haste
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
Champion Build Guide
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 a protector
+ Not hard to learn
+ Literally unkillable if played right
- Mana hungry early game
- Needs core items for full potential
- You can get flamed for the pick
- Anti-healing makes your life a bit harder
- Needs good decision-making
- You tilt enemies too often
Rune page 1 - Recommended
This is my preferred page for Frostfire Gauntlet and Sunfire Aegis builds.
Manaflow Band - an obvious choice, which gives us the mana sustain we need early.
Transcendence - after the S11 changes to ability haste and this rune, taking it is vital.
Scorch - great for poking and burning down your opponent early.
Shield Bash - helps you with trades in the lane greatly and scales well with your health/shield power items.
Revitalize - your W and E are buffed a bit by this. Plus, it can save some of your teammates.
- Other possibilities :
Conditioning - Provides just a bit of resistances to top it off. Perfect after your itemization is complete.
Bone Plating - the rune is great for shutting down all-in champions.
Second Wind - great against poke and damage-over-time lane opponents.
Rune page 2 - Grasp
This is the preferred page for Divine Sunderer builds.
Grasp of the Undying - if you get an easy-to-poke matchup, this rune gives you a lot of sustain, good poke, and a lot of health in the long run. I prefer Phase Rush due to the mobility it provides, but this one works as well!
Second Wind/ Conditioning/ Bone Plating -all of these are great choices, depending on the match-up.
Rune page 3 - Moonstone Renewer page
Summon Aery - works really well with your mythic and shields, but you lose a lot of beefiness/mobility.
Font of Life - for even more healing to your team
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 team fights a lot.
Karma shields target ally for 4 seconds and grants the target bonus movement speed for 1.5 seconds.
When empowered - it 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 mana sustain from minion kills.
-I also consider taking:
- for even more sustain AND a great buff to your poke early.
- against tanks and matchups you can freely poke, this, combined with Grasp of the Undying offers the strongest lane pressure. The mythic bonus is not as useful on you, but the item itself does very decently.
- the best item for extended trades for tank Karma also offers ability haste mythic bonus, which helps your build greatly.
- this one makes you even beefier and offers our good old gauntlet slow on auto-attacks every 4 seconds. If you want to be the team's frontline, you get a bit bigger with this item's mythic bonus.
- a situational pick, I only go mandate if my team has enough tankiness or I want to play around a hyper-carry.
- surprisingly, this item offers a lot of sustain to your team, for the price of making your laning phase a bit weaker.
Always go for
- Health and health regen, magic resist, ability haste, and to top it all, 30% increased self-healing, what gives Tank Karma the survivability she needs.
- I usually take those just to sell them later. Early, it gives you some ability haste to get your cooldowns lower, and later on in the game you can sell them to get some armor or magic resist.
- Magic resist and tenacity are great, as you are going to move around team fights a lot, and making the CC on you reduced helps that case.
- Against heavy ad / auto-attack teams, when you want to block %dmg of auto-attacks and also get some armor for survivability.
Situational - your choice
- ability haste, mana and armor this item provides are great for Karma by itself, but the item really shines against high attack speed carries.
- in case you need grievous wounds, good against fed AD opponents.
- the new non-mythic burn item is even better than it's former self. It provides magic resist and armor now, so it benefits us even more!
- health and armor, great if you need the bonus mobility before the teamfights.
- health, armor and the same passive as Frozen Heart. Active is great for chasing and can help the course of any team fight.
- the new mask provides health, magic resistance, and 10% increased damage from any source to every enemy you root with Focused Resolve. Great if you want to lock down targets with your team.
- against heavy ap teams or dot.
- if you need more health and regeneration out of fights. Great for short trades.
- does this pick seem weird? The new passive heals you a lot, even though Karma is ranged and the shield is great if you find yourself getting burst down before having time to activate your empowered W.
- even more bizarre pick? Great against AD burst and full AD teams. Very situational.
, or - 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 gain a lot from attack speed and on-hit effects, this is the best pick. Next, Staff of Flowing Water is my new favorite - giving the whole team ability power and movement speed with your empowered Inspire is just insane. On the other hand, Redemption is more sustain based - as the Active effect can save you, or your teammates, even after you DIE.
All of these items have +% healing and shielding power, which is great for your kit too. You can even combine 2 of those items together in your build, and be even more helpful to your team.
His sustain is great, his CC is hitting hard, and later he becomes tanky enough to eat all of your damage. You can outtrade him early, as your damage and mobility are pretty high itself but he will get very beefy, so take Demonic Embrace. Do not overpush - since Cho'Gath can set up ganks easily. Make use of Phase Rush as much as you can, so you won't get caught in his abilities.
I am not as certain about this one, yet considering all the games I have played this matchup in, 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.
Even though I believe you are to have the upper hand, he can be a nuisance later on. 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 wind wall, 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 or Frozen Heart to make his attacks 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 resistance.
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 the lane, he can get it back with just a little bit of underestimating in team fights. With that said, your laning phase and team fights 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.
//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 affect 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, which 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 apologize for not updating the guide through the last few patches due to a 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.
//12th June 2020
-After more than a year, I decided to come back to the guide and I will try to update it as often as possible. The build is still not only viable but also very rewarding in the current meta!
//29th June 2020
-removed outdated info
//8th October 2020
-the guide is still very viable, currently testing out the new items on PBE, so we can update to the next season!
//15th October 2020
- What a time to be alive! Karma has been hit with some nice buffs this patch, go and get some free LP!
//26th January 2021
-S11 is here, so I will try to update the guide as much as I can! Some parts are still missing, but bear with me, please.
Looking forward to your feedback!