Bard Build Guide by Aqua Dragon
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AP Bard Mid
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.
Hi! I’m Aqua Dragon. I ended Season 4 at Master 1 with AD Jungle Malzahar, among others
This build is part of a series of guides that is given a playstyle and then optimizes it. The guide does not give an opinion on whether the build is good/strong/viable/competitive, nor whether the playstyle is the optimal way to play a champion. Other guides will provide why you should play a champion that way, but this one will not.
The guide only answers: regardless of strength, if you are playing X, how should you do it?
This guide was brought to you by ThisCornerOfTheEarth.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive guide. It is meant to outline the basic principle, items, runes, and playstyle of AP Bard Mid. As such, I won't be delving into why certain customization choices were made. However, my hope is that I will have explained AP Bard Mid enough that my rationale will be a self-evident extension, and to also allow you to make personal customizations as well.
Want to to discuss or watch this build?
Pros and Cons
- Potent lane bully during the early game
- Transitions into a teamfighting AOE AP Carry
- Provides useful support even when behind
- Mid lane provides plenty of opportunity to roam for ult plays
- No significant mana issues
- Low escape potential to ganks early game
- Burst begins to fall off into the late game
- Need 35 chimes to reach AP Carry status
- Difficult to balance farming waves and grabbing chimes
- AP Carry power frontloaded in Meeps; once out, damage is out.
- Limited cooldown reduction options in the build path
What is AP Bard Mid?
Bardly Even Trying
Bard is normally known for being a strange stun/portal/stasis/healing/roaming weirdo that somehow still cohesively works. At mid lane, Bard builds AP to dial down these utility aspects in favor of abusing the potential damage of their meeps, which hit quite hard.
Many AP Bard guides suggest going for items like Lich Bane, Nashor's Tooth, and Guinsoos to maximize the singular on-hit damage. But Lich and Nashors are traps, verified through damage efficiency calculations.
Damage efficiency is the name of the game; not to be confused with gold efficiency.
Gold efficiency only tells you how much gold an item theoretically costs while ignoring AP scalings, true damage, and damage patterns. This makes it a decent tool, but we can do better.
By using a calculator I've created for AP Bard, it is possible to find the total damage of any set of spells / autos, which is divided from the gold spent. The Gold Spent For Each Point of Damage, also known as Gold/DMG, also known as damage efficiency.
This metric is significantly more useful; Rabadons may give the most raw damage, but it is also an insane amount of gold. What if Sorc Shoes provide half the damage at a third of the cost? Then Sorcs would be the better bang for buck.
The results for Lich Bane and Nashors are... underwhelming. With a full build of Lich Bane, Nashors, Sorcs, Ludens, Rabadons, and Void Staff, On-hit AP Bard is able to reach a whopping... 600 DPS. For 17,000 gold. But only for about 3 seconds until the meeps run out. Almost 30 gold spent for each point of damage. Ew...
However, a different pathway appears if looking at an undervalued aspect of the meeps: at 35 chimes, Meeps gain a respectable AOE component that deals the meep's damage to all targets. By abusing the AOE of meeps, it is possible to deal over 1.5k to every clustered enemy with just a few autoattacks!
Additionally, this itemization allows AP Bard to focus on stronger bully items early on instead of needing to go up awkward on-hit components. Combined with their roaming potential from mid lane, AP Bard is able to be a bully early that transitions into a roaming AOE AP Carry.
Time to Chime
This build was created by using the Damage Efficiency calculator mentioned earlier. This allows Bard to squeeze out the maximum amount of damage from every drop.
AP Bard does not have significant mana issues, and Doran's Blade provides more damage than Doran's Ring because of Bard's underwhelming AP ratios.
Not only is mobility excellent for bullying and roaming, but Sorcerer Shoes also offer the best gold/dmg value early on. An excellent buy no matter how you piece it!
In any order, get:
These next two items offer the best damage efficiency, while also heavily synergizing with AP Bard's goals.
There's a lot of possible mix and matching here.
You can build an early Aether Wisp if roaming constantly, or focus instead on Hextech Revolver if you're making the enemy's life miserable.
Finish Protobelt first for stronger burst, or finish Ludens first for stronger waveclear.
In any case, finish both items before continuing.
In any order, get:
Both of these are the next in line for damage efficiency.
Void Staff will deal more efficient than Liandries at about 60 MR or higher, meaning it's the choice for assisting damage output against bruisers.
Liandries offers a stronger health component while being more useful to deal damage against squishier targets.
Choose accordingly. Finish both items before continuing to the final item:
The final item to round out the damage. Difficult to create though because there is only one item slot remaining.
Stage of the Game
In the early game, your goals are to
- Bully like mad!
- Roam aggressively, especially into Level 6
- Collect chimes between waves, roams, and recalls
- Set up heals near the tower
Be sure to set up Caretaker Shrines near your turret. These will help heal up after each bully engagement, allowing for even more harassment.
When getting low on mana, consider looking for chimes. Chimes will restore a sizable chunk of mana, making them a worthwhile investment even if you have to leave the wave momentarily.
Try to find the best spots to use Magical Journey to speed up chime collection. The movement speed quints help for roaming, harassment, and collecting, but proper portal usage is really what sets the tempo of the pickups.
At level 6, roam often. Magical Journey and Tempered Fate are a potent near-global presence from the mid lane, and that power must be taken advantage of.
As the laning phase winds down, you will transition into your true APC form
- Use sizable burst alongside Cosmic Binding for good picks
- Angle autoattacks to maximize the AOE damage of meeps in fights
- Assist teammates with Bard's inherent utility
Don't forget to collect chimes. The goal is to hit 35 chimes, which sets in motion the true nightmare.
The burst damage has not fallen off yet. With a few Meeps available, it becomes possible to do some incredibly damage to squishier targets; abuse this to set up picks with control wards!
Stick with the team if you can. The damage can only get so far, and it's necessary to rely mostly on teammates for more of the sustained damage.
More of the same.
- Unleash the Meeps on clumped up enemies, like the hunter you are
- After the Meep barrage ends, assist with strong heals
Consider sitting near the back until shortly after the fight has begun. This will be when enemies are most likely to be standing near each other. The attack speed marks will help throw out this damage a little faster than usual as well.
Once the Meeps run out, you're spent. But you're not out of the fight; begin using each spell to assist the team with their own difficulties. While the burst is nowhere near as amazing as it was earlier, Cosmic Binding can still deal some decent damage and help peel off carries from teammates.
Continue collecting chimes when you can. Note though that they are largely just a bonus at this point; the 35 chime mark is what really sets AP Bard into a monster, and everything beyond that just turns into a bonus.
This guide was a lot of fun to write, and I hope you all have learned everything you would have liked. If you have any questions, leave a comment or drop a line over at twitch.tv/aquadragon33 !
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