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Karma Build Guide by Mark Jefferson

Not Updated For Current Season

This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Mark Jefferson

[Patch 6.17] Karma: Mistress of Shields and Barriers

Mark Jefferson Last updated on August 27, 2016
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Support Role
Ranked #24 in
Support Role
Win 47%
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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.


Natural Talent
Bounty Hunter
Battering Blows
Piercing Thoughts

Ferocity: 0

Dangerous Game

Cunning: 18

Tough Skin
Runic Armor
Veteran's Scars
Legendary Guardian

Resolve: 12

Threats to Karma with this build

Show all
Threat Champion Notes
Jinx Marksman This is relatively easy lane for you to bully. With low mobility hitting your poke on her is easy and her ability to trade back is negligible when shielded. She only starts to become a proper threat when she has her ultimate to which you should keep mantra E at the ready.
Kog'Maw Marksman With a really weak early game, range down times and lack of mobility, this lane should be easy for you to control. He does have good reach in accommodating jungle ganks with his e slow so make sure you are prepared to disengage when necessary. Otherwise, poke him down and shield all of his own telegraphed poke.
Varus Marksman With his main damage source being poke, shielding his attempts to gain control of the lane is easily achieved. Without any form of mobility, it's very hard for him to reply with damage as his skills are cannot be spammed without mana repercussions. His danger comes from his burst combo when he gets his ultimate so make sure you can escape the snare spread and shield his damage.
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Karma is one of the most versatile champions in the game, having seen viable play in nearly all roles with varying builds/uses. Support Karma in itself has different build paths completely dependent on playstyle and requirements of team composition. This particular guide, however, will focus on the more defensive/utility style of play that she's capable of, outlining her potential as a utility support that can dictate the pace of the game and the flow of teamfights.

Personally, Karma is a very fun champion to play despite her relative simplicity. This simplicity, however, also begets a level of mastery required to play Karma to a high standard. Considering this, she can be picked up by both beginners and veterans of the game/bottom lane alike.

Picking Karma, she can fit into most team compositions as she excels in empowering her teammates to carry. She can fit well into both engage and disengage compositions and does really well when there are already forms of initiation available on the team. Even with weaker team compositions without tanks, the amount of defensive capabilities can sometimes be hidden by her shields.

Within this guide, also features general support guidance and tips that can apply for all supports, such as warding, positioning, macro game etc.

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This build takes 0/18/12 in the mastery tree, with Windspeaker's Blessing keystone mastery. Masteries are very much personal preference and can be adapted to your style of play. The mastery allocation of this build, however, fits best with the overall goal/playstyle highlighted in this guide. Shown below are masteries of contention that may be changed to fit you.

Merciless or Meditation :

Merciless is a decent option that allows for a more aggressive style of play damage wise. Regardless, Meditation can also provide a similar amount of aggression in that it allows you to sustain mana in order to make trades within lane. Secondly, building a utility style of Karma means that the extra damage gained from Merciless loses value in comparison.

Bandit or Dangerous Game :

These two options are both viable in their own right but have completely different uses. It can be argued either way which one is more valuable, though personally, my choices goes towards Dangerous Game . Bandit synergises well with Spellthief's Edge and can generate a reasonable amount of gold that supports desire. That being said, Dangerous Game provides clutch safety in close scenarios that is almost reminiscent of taking a single crit rune in order to win you the fight; this mastery can be the key difference in winning or losing a fight. Weighing what these two masteries have to offer, it is completely up to you to decide which is better.

Precision or Intelligence :

Considering a focus on utility, Intelligence is the substantially better option. The extra 5% cooldown reduction can, in this example scenario, determine whether or not the targeted teammate will receive a shield before dying. In a game of milliseconds, 5% CDR is definitely not something to sneeze at. Precision offers a great aggressive edge to both your abilities and auto attacks. Comparing the two, Intelligence gets better usage in terms of utility.

Thunderlord's Decree or Windspeaker's Blessing :

As stated previously, the decision for masteries in this guide is based on which provides the most utility. As such the extra shield points and resistances gained from Windspeaker's Blessing is the best option. Regardless of playstyle, however, I believe that even in a more aggressive playstyle of Karma, Thunderlord's Decree pales in comparison. The sheer value gained from Windspeaker's Blessing may not be as apparent in the early game, but it is made up tenfold during the mid/late game. At it's highest value, it can provide 22 armor and 11 magic resist (at level 18) for 3 seconds with a shield cooldown of 4.4 seconds (assuming 45% CDR) on top of the 10% shield point increase. If coupled with Mantra, this benefit can spread to the entire team. Comparatively, Thunderlord's Decree at its highest value provides an extra 180 magic damage (10% ability power scaling) on a 3rd attack every 15 seconds (max level). While there is an argument to be made for Thunderlord's Decree , Windspeaker's Blessing trumps in value, reliability and overall synergy with the build.

Ferocity tree or Resolve Tree:

The extra 12 points can be placed either in Ferocity or Resolve. Ferocity provides extra damage/aggression for both you and your team, where you would take points in most notably Expose Weakness and Oppressor . Inversely, Resolve provides defensive capabilities. Insight gives a unique benefit where its value can never be understated. The most notable mastery in the Resolve tree, however, is Runic Armor which has great synergy with self-shields as well as Renewal.

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In the current metagame for supports, there is a wide variety of useful items that can truly dictate the result of teamfights. Below will feature core items and the different item options available.

Eye of the Watchers/ Frost Queen's Claim

These two items are the two variations that you can decide between for your final support item upgrade. Eye of the Watchers links your Frostfang with your Sightstone which gives two notable advantages: it allows you to have four ward charges available quicker than buying a Ruby Sightstone (250g cheaper), as well as frees up an item slot by combining your support item with your Sightstone. This is very important when thinking about which items are deemed necessary for the rest of the game and whether or not this 'extra' item slot may prove useful. Frost Queen's Claim on the other hand has the active component which sends two ghosts to scout for the enemy team, providing vision as well as a slow to those it makes contact with.

Locket of the Iron Solari:

While at first glance, this item may be only considered niche for its magic resist aura, but Locket of the Iron Solari’s strength lies in its active component. With only a 60 second cooldown, the maximum value gained from a level 18 shield for the entire team can soak up to 1725 damage, shielding an individual teammate for 345 damage each. Of course, the other stats and bonuses of the item cannot be ignored; with an aura that provides 20 magic resist to each teammate near you, this item is a must buy against teams with significant magic damage. Finally the item provides tank stats that increases survivability, which is important in order to stay in fights as your shields should predominantly be used on targeted teammates rather than yourself.

Boots of Mobility:

Upgrading boots can generally be decided on what is necessary for the game, but Boots of Mobility is the standard pick for most supports. The extra movement speed gained out of combat is heavily utilised in ward placements around the map, such as placing aggressive wards in the enemy jungle. Having the ability to transition quickly around the map is also essential for a support, where you may be able to make plays ganking mid lane if your bot lane situation permits it.

Mikael's Crucible:

This item provides a niche active component in Cleanseing a crowd control ability on an allied target (including yourself if able). Including the Cleanse, it gives a 150 + 10% max health heal, giving incentive on using the active on tanks as well. Another important aspect is its +15% healing and shielding power passive which further boosts the Inspire ability which this build revolves around.

Athene's Unholy Grail:

Another Chalice of Harmony item similar to Mikael's Crucible, this item provides a bit more ability power and offensive kick in your item choices. Having this item, mana will no longer be a problem due to the mana regeneration passive. The 20% CDR, magic resist and ability power are all useful stats that Karma benefits from. Athene's Unholy Grail has another unique passive that heals targets that are shielded or healed. The extra heal is based on damage taken and is stored until the next shield/heal used. Even more defensive capabilities!

Zeke's Harbinger:

An item designed to heavily increase your marksman's damage, buying this item to snowball can be incredibly dangerous to the enemy in both skirmishes and teamfights. This item has useful stats, most notably some extra armor if necessary when up against heavy AD comps. The active component links you with a teammate where within proximity from each other, charges are gained up to 100 stacks. Once 100 stacks are gained, both you and the linked target gain 50% crit chance and 20% increased ability power. While this should be linked to your marksman, make sure you switch your linked teammate if required as switching is only on a 60 second cooldown.

Ardent Censer:

This item can go hand in hand with Zeke's Harbinger in terms of focusing your efforts in boosting the strength of your marksman or any other auto attack based champion. When you shield a target, they gain 15% increased attack speed and 30 on-hit magic damage for 6 seconds. Considering Inspire has a 4.4 second cooldown at 45% CDR, this buff basically does not wear off if your shields are predominantly used on the same target.

Zhonya's Hourglass:

A little bit more situational for a support item, Zhonya's Hourglass does not provide utility for the rest of the team but its active ability is very handy in certain situations. If the enemy team composition is heavy AD, then investing in this item is by no means a bad choice. Other scenarios where you may be focused by the enemy, this item can be your saving grace. Though expensive with more aggressive stats, this item does serve a valuable niche.

Important notes/tips to consider:

A lot of support items have cooldown reduction attached to them. Going over the 40% cooldown reduction cap is generally not something to worry about in terms of inefficiency as the items listed above have their own usefulness that transcends being a tiny bit gold inefficient.

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Skill Sequence

Maxing Inner Flame (Q) or Inspire (E)

Playing support Karma, you have the option of maxing either your Inner Flame (Q) or Inspire (E). Choosing which one you max in lane can make a significant difference. There are a few points to considering when deciding what is best to skill up.

The match up in lane is the first obvious aspect to look into when maxing an ability. If we were to consider an enemy ap utility/caster support, note whether or not they have easy sustain in their kit; 'Is it possible to get pressure/poke through their sustain if I max q?'. If not, then maxing E may be the best option. Enemy supports like Soraka playing far back can often lead to wasting all your mana without leaving a dent on the enemy health bar.

'What resistances does the enemy have?'. This is a big one. If the enemy has opted for no magic resist in their runes i.e AP supports, then maxing Q can be exceptionally troublesome for the enemy just from base damage increase. There is also the opposite viewpoint of maxing E against these high risk, high reward supports, denying their damage/burst with a simple Defiance.

'Who is my partner in lane?'. Taking note of who you're playing with is another important aspect. Not only in the type of champion, but in their playstyle/skill level. Maxing E would not be the best choice if there was no option for your lane partner to effectively trade or is not skilled enough in skirmishes. Maxing Q would alleviate a lot of pressure off of your marksman if they aren't up to the job of utilising the extra boost in Inspire.

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Gathering Fire (PASSIVE):

This passive allows a lot of snowball potential if you're able to get lane advantage/pressure. Having Mantra at level 1 is basically what allows Karma to be dominant early. Make sure that you utilise this passive by weaving in auto attacks in safely and poking with Inner Flame. Being able to Soulflare the enemy and quickly get it back up through poking can be really irritating for the opponent.

Inner Flame (Q):

Your main damage/poke ability. The damage output from this skill can be insane with extra levels. With relatively low cooldown and mana consumption, you become a straight up bully. Paired with Mantra, you can lay some serious damage as early as the first wave. Make sure you utilise the splash radius as the enemy can take some unexpected damage from standing near a minion within your Inner Flame range. The slow from this spell is useful for weaving in autoattacks; you can generally get in free autoattacks if you were able to hit Inner Flame successfully.

Focused Resolve (W):

A versatile spell, this can provide decent peel or engage in skirmishes and ganks. Early on, this isn't the easiest spell to pull off due to the danger you put yourself in waiting for the snare to activate. Using your Inspire with this, you can kite/chase the enemy and basically guarantee a good trade or useful cooldowns. Utilising this skill effectively can take some getting used to but is integral to her kit.

Inspire (E):

Your defensive ability, this spell has a wide array of uses. Utilising your Inner Flame with Inspire correctly makes it very hard for the enemy to outtrade you in lane. It is useful for engaging/disengaging, blocking poke, trades and asserting pressure. The movespeed tacked onto this skill is another facet that makes this skill so damn good. You have great reach in lane with it, as well as acting as a reliable way of retreating in the face of enemy jungle ganks.

Mantra (R):

Her ultimate ability, it is important to note she has access to this skill at level 1. Empowering all of her abilities, each Mantra'd skill gains heavy bonuses:

Soulflare (Mantra Q):

This ability can hurt. Having access to level 1 makes it really oppressive and can dish out really annoying poke early. This along with Gathering Fire makes it so that you can cast this ability frequently in lane if you're able to make use of your early game pressure. The slow field can make for a good start-up for engages or can be used to disengage when paired with Inspire. If you can get a snare off with Focused Resolve, you can guarantee the the secondary damage of the ability for a good extra chunk.

Renewal (Mantra W):

A hidden gem in her kit, this allows for some unexpected baits for the enemy. The key aspect is the heals gained from Renewal where the lower your health is, the more health you gain. In a scenario where you might be tower dived at low health, using this skill may lead to your survival and in some other cases, even turning the dive around and getting kills; the extra duration on the snare can be deadly for the enemy under a turret. While this may not be used very often, it's versatility in sustain and baiting cannot be understated.

Defiance (Mantra E):

The ultimate teamfighting spell, this can soak up large amounts of damage from the enemy team. Being able to shield the entire team while providing movespeed has so many uses. It has great engage/disengage potential (think a mini- On The Hunt), it can be used to bait the enemy with its huge shield on the targeted ally, and can deny aoe team compositions from their main damage capabilities. With CDR and proceeding into the mid/late game, this will be your primary usage of Mantra, and with Gathering Fire, you can basically spam this ability whenever Inspire is off cooldown, depending on how many targets you are hitting with Inner Flame.

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Early game:

Karma's kit:

This is a major part of the game where Karma shines. Abuse your early damage potential at level 1 with Inner Flame and Soulflare, weaving in autoattacks to make use of Gathering Fire's full potential. You can decide by how trades work out whether you want to continue bullying the enemy by maxing Q or whether you want to better transition into a mid game with safety in lane by maxing E. Try and determine where their jungler is locatred before using Mantra as you may accidentally waste an important cooldown using Soulflare when Defiance may have been the better option.


Keeping vision in your lane is an absolute must as it allows you to safely pressure your lane without the ability of the enemy jungler or Teleport users to capitalise on your aggression. Having a pink ward in river or tribrush is generally easy to sustain when applying pressure, but do not be afraid to give it up when the enemy jungler visits. When you get your Sightstone and transition into Sweeping Lens, pay attention to where the enemy support wards. You have to make a decision with which ward is the most important to remove as you won't be able to clear all of them. While clearing wards in river that deny jungle ganks are usually sound removals, removing wards in the lane brush when there is potential Teleport ganks get priority; always try and remove wards that are behind you.

If you are able to kill the enemy bot lane, try and use their down time to ward key parts of their jungle or help out mid lane. In terms of warding, getting a ward on their red/blue buff can open up opportunities for your team to ambush the enemy jungler. Otherwise, the absence of their jungler in the areas that you warded gives you the information that they may not be on your side of the map.

Mid game:

Karma's Kit:

Outside of lane, you will start using Soulflare less and using Defiance more; the teamfighting potential with Defiance is a lot stronger. Depending on what you are maxing, you may start to do less damage and will have to transition into your utility role. In teamfights, always try to keep to the back line and use your Focused Resolve defensively to peel away any divers. Hitting Inner Flame on as much targets as possible will make a huge difference in lowering Mantra cooldown which will be used to spam Defiance even more.

Transitioning into the mid game, whether you are ahead or behind, having your Sightstone and Boots of Mobility are a must and should be rushed when you are starting to leave lane. By this stage, Dragons will be a contested objective and having wards around the area will prove vital in fights and control. Taking the Crab should be a priority as it acts an extra ward and the movespeed buff provided can be used to your advantage in replying to engages or disengaging away from dragon if necessary. Any form of hard CC reduces the resistances on the Crab so using Focused Resolve on it will make it much easier for your team to kill. Your Sweeping Lens can generally be used to clear any wards the give vision to Dragon directly in order to prevent the possibility of a well-timed steal.

Late game:

Karma's kit:

By this stage of the game, if it wasn't by the mid game already, Inspire and Defiance will be your bread and butter. Having maxed out cooldown reduction if you are not completely behind should not be too hard of a endeavor so your shields can prevent a lot of damage. You will start to deal minimal damage by this point and Inner Flame is only used for Gathering Fire and its slow. Mantra, in nearly all scenarios, should be used for Defiance as Soulflare will not do significant damage in comparison to your team dealing damage more easily with the shield and movespeed increase. Soulflare's slow may still be used in a case where the slow is more useful than the movespeed buff from Defiance.


You will have to start using your wards a bit more intelligently as the whole map will be open for you to control. Place your wards in areas that are contested: Baron, Dragon, flanks in extended sieges etc. As the game progresses, it starts to become more and more dangerous to ward on your own, even with Inspire and Boots of Mobility, so try and ward with the team. Warding Baron is basically the same case as Dragon, but there will be scenarios where you may have to spread your wards between the two if both are able to be contested at the same time by the enemy. If you can pick up Crab kills, then they can effectively save a ward to be used elsewhere. Clearing wards with your Oracle Alteration is important and can clear the ward coverage in these contested areas. Having someone with you while clearing can make your ward clearing more effective as you may not be able to get through them all with your low attack speed.