Build Guide by Cyrith
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This is my first guide. You can skip this part if you like, I just want to say a few words on why I wanted to make a guide, despite how daunting it seems.
Firstly, the mobafire community, most notably its guides have helped me a lot in my gameplay, and in understanding the game as a whole, which while is not really a big feat, its still a big help. So this is my attempt at trying to give something back to the community; and while it can, and most likely will fail, at least I can say I tried.
Secondly, I love Sona. I think that her wide array of skills and her ability to go from early game harrassment in lanes to supporting her team to victory, a flexibility not shown in most support characters, makes her stand out to me. Every one of her abilities is useful and has a marked effect on a team fight, and while her burst healing may not be good, she can still keep a team up, while her damage isnt good (to be fair, support characters arent damage characters) the fact that she can deal damage and buff her allies damage simultaneously makes up for the lack of <yet another dps/tanky dps/annoying 'im better than you' carry> alone, let alone all of her other abilities. In the albiet short time ive played her, I feel that I can say what ive learned, and maybe learn some things from you, the community I did this for, and together maybe make this something special.
Or maybe ive talked too much. I did say you could skip this. Nevermind this, on with the guide!
Just Before I Begin
(a few words on the nature of the guide and my opinion of Sona)
I see a lot of guides that build Sona as a half DPS support. This is NOT one of them. People have made these guides for the reason that is her abilities large base damage. This allows her to harass very well. However her abilities do not scale well. The difference between a dps character and a support with damage, is the scaling. Hymn of Valor doesnt scale well with AP, compared to most other characters who could be built with a dps focus, for example Janna with essentially a stun and a slow, she can put out nice burst damage on a target and assist with a kill. Sona is not the same in my opinion. She has good base damage and bad scaling so she can harass very well early game, but once the game progresses, you must realise that other classes that may not have done as much damage as you, will now overtake you, unless you have been rediculously fed and they buy awful items. Therefore, in line with the name of the guide, I have aimed this towards my personal opinion of Sona, which you may or may not share; that being that she is a spectacular support, and playing otherwise is a bit of a waste of potential, and so she has been built to support as best she can. If you feel a dps build may be better, i hope to show you the potential pure support has. This isnt to say she cant do damage, and that isnt to say you can shove in a lichbane instead of a different 'optional' item and go own some face, afterall, its your game not mine. If you wish to try a pure support build, your in the right place, and I hope my guide can help, and if you dont really know, im sure you can see whether or not you like it.
I have chosen my runes for the following reasons:
AP is a primary stat for Sona, buffing her heals and her rather small, but still noticable damage output. AP per level runes are the best for this, but lead to a defecit in early game, so i have chosen flat AP quints, with /level marks and glyphs.
Sona also likes to spam her abilities, and so i have taken some mana seals in order to help her not go oom as much, although once you have archangels staff, you generally have no mana issues.
Flash is a no brainer in my opinion, can be used offencively and defencively, allowing you to escape and catch up to enemies.
Clarity is a nice spell. I take it for a few reasons, although I used to not take it. Reason 1: Early game it lets you stay in lane and support for longer, as well as get more exp and more gold due to not having to go back to base. The same also applies to your laning partner, if applicable. Reason 2: With a point into the masteries it gives the same mana to your allies as it does to you. This is very useful it team fights and adds to your repetoire of support abilites, covering your weakness, with is the inability to recover mana to your team.
However I feel that there are always alternatives to everything, and while i think that Flash should stay there, clarity could be replaced with either ghost, exhaust, cleanse, clairvoyance or even smite.
Smite however confuses people. Here are my reasons for smite: 1- it helps with early game farming, allowing you to rush the early items a little bit quicker and not use so much mana to farm (Sona is terribly mana inefficient at low levels). 2- it allows you to get a cheap minion kill when you normally couldnt, like running away from an enemy. 3- its rather amusing killing people and doing /all JUNGLE SONA! SMITE POWAH after youve aced thier team with no losses.
Exhaust is nice for assisting a team with a kill and saving yourself when without it you likely would have died. There isnt much else to it.
Ghost is yet another escape tool, and I never really feel that I have missed it, considering she already has speed buffs of her own, coupled with flash, ghost feels like overkill to me.
Cleanse is ok, but has been nerfed a lot, and if someone has gotten debuffs on you once, it can happen again, and considering when facing CC teams you want to buy Mercury's treads, Cleanse feels like a waste compared to the others.
Clairvoyance can be nice if you use it right, to spot, or set up ganks. It can be used in other ways id imagine, but ive never gave it much of a chance, as it seems rather underwhelming compared to other spells, however is more than viable if you see a use for it.
Edit 1: I have used Clairvoyance with the build, changing the masteries as appropriate, and to be honest, I saw no real benefit from it. To me it seems like it is very strong against a team who likes to hide and gank in the jungle, but regardless, when you use it, they wait till its gone, then move to a different spot, and still end up getting the gank if they know what they are doing. So after using I can still confirm that this summoner spell isnt that good for Sona unless you have a team that relys on you using it. Otherwise even heal is probably superior for early game mana saving, and heal + Sona is stupid.
Next, id like to go over a few key mechanics of Sona, and her abilities, as I will likely mention things that other people may have different names for, and to avoid confusion, I will say them now.
Sona's passive does 2 things, but the part we are interested in is the persistence of her auras. They persist for 2 seconds after cancelling, and also, you can only activate an aura once every 2 seconds.
This allows you to keep up two of your auras active at any given time. In a fight this should be your damage and your healing auras. Plus the active of these spells allows you to contribute to the fight.
Her Passive has been nerfed, it used to be a 3 second persistence allowing you to have all 3 auras active half the time with perfect latency. However two is just fine really.
This is the opposite of cycling in a way. Rather than trying to achieve maximum aura uptime, you want to achieve the most benfit from the active effect of your abilities, which is usually done to maximise healing or movement speed increase, sometimes for damage. The problem with cycling auras is that each aura essentially has a 6 second cooldown, compared to the 4.2 second cooldown you should have with the item setup. This means by forsaking the auras of your abilities, you can use your heal, or your damage, or your burst movement speed more often. Pretty self explainatory.
Her Skills(which may, or may not pay the bills)
Her passive: Power Chord
Firstly, ever 3 spellcasts makes her auto attack deal extra damage, 24 + 12 x champion level damage, to be precise.
Also, her auras persist for 3 seconds after deactivating them, and changing auras makes you unable to change auras for another 2 seconds.
The only thing of note here is that it allows you to cycle your auras and get maximum uptime on your group buffs. The extra damage on auto attack I will come into later.
Then her Q ability: Hymn of Valor
Active: Attacks the 2 nearest enemies, preferring champions, for : 70 / 120 / 170 / 220 / 270 (+0.6 per ability power)
Aura: Gives nearby allies 8 / 11 / 13 / 17 / 20 AD and AP
I like to take this before I take her heal, because her heal is weak and mana inefficient at low levels, and I generally dont get hit that much at low levels to warrant investing points in healing, so unless my laning opponents are hard to beat, or my partner is playing sub par, I tend to save levels in heal for later, and focus on increasing my damage output for early/mid game ganks.
Now for her W: Aria of Perseverance
Active: Heals the most wounded nearby allied champion for 40 / 65 / 90 / 115 / 140 (+0.5 per ability power)
Aura: Gives nearby allies 8 / 11 / 13 / 17 / 20 Armor and MR
This ability works better in mid game in my opinion, to help your team survive for longer and so keep fighting the enemy team, relentlessly farming them until they ragequit or your whole team is so fed they cant possibly beat you. However like I said earlier, at early game its rather lacklustre and so I prefer to invest the points into Hymn of Valor instead of this until I reach higher levels where the need for healing becomes more obvious.
Next comes her E: Song of Celerity
Active: Gives nearby allies 8 / 11 / 13 / 17 / 20 % increased movement speed
Aura: Gives nearby allies 8 / 11 / 14 / 17 / 20 movement speed.
I take a rank in this early to add a nice escape tool to my arsenal, and from then on save it for endgame, where it really shines, allowing you to catch runners, push faster, and overall speed the game up, while the enemies are still slow.
Now her Ultimate :o : Crescendo
Sona plays her ultimate chord, forcing enemy champions to dance and take magic damage (150 / 250 / 350 (+0.7 per ability power)) over 1.5 seconds
Her ulti is pretty straightforward. Its an AoE stun thats targetted in a line. Use it at a crucial point in the fight, when the enemy team feels somewhat comfortable, all of a sudden, a stun comes, you disrupt thier whole team, a few of thier carries fall dead, and like dominoes the rest fall.
Other examples are ultimates such as Miss Fortune and Nunu's, which you can interrupt thier high damage abilities, massively reducing your team's damage intake, which can be more effective than any healing.
Getting a feel for when to use crescendo is a very important thing for Sona, and amongst everything else, is a major difference between a noob and a good Sona.
Phew, this is rather long, but were getting close. Just items, and a few others to go, then you can go forth and pwn! (or fail miserably and we can all laugh at your misfortune.)
Im going to split this into 2 main sections. I feel that my build has 3 core items that without, will significantly reduce her effectiveness. Then there are 2 other potential paths, the recommended way which allows her to play to her fullest, in my opinion, and a list of other items that could be gotten if you find yourself in need of armor or magic resist because your getting focused too much.
This builds towards tear of the godess, which is amazing for Sona, she spams her abilities and reaches that 1000 mana rather quickly.
Tear of the Godess
Very strong item that builds into even more epic Archangel's Staff.
At this point you have a choice, Boots, or Mejai's Soulstealer.Boots should be taken if your having issues with the opposing team, and you think the extra speed will save you.
Mejai's can be taken if you feel confident against your opponents enough to postpone your boots in favour of not missing out on potential Ability Power.
Both choices are valid, but one is always better, and its up to you to decide which.
As far as boots are concerned, you have 4 options:
Boots of Swiftness- To be taken when the enemy team has no real threat to you in the form of dps carries and CC teams.
Boots of Mobility- To be taken if your team likes to gank people and you want to be able to keep up with everyone and help them (as in, get soulstealer stacks)
Mercury's Treads- To be taken vs heavy magic / CC teams, as it will drastically increase your survivability
Ninja Tabi- To be taken vs teams with a good carry that can get up to you and nuke you, for example, Yi or Tyrnda beating on you, with dodge and armour, you get a little bit more of a chance against them.
Finally, we finish with Blasting wand-> Archangels staff.
Now, we have 2 choices. My personal reccomendations, and a few extra items for if you want to last a bit longer incase your getting focused too much.
Health: Always nice. Oh, and another aura, this time, reducing cooldowns by 15% and giving a small amount of mana per 5 seconds. This aura stuff is getting rediculous :D.
This item gives her health, MR, and increased healing on herself. This is nice as her heal will always heal Sona, giving an increase in survivability from each of the benefits of the item.
How youve gotten to this point I dont know. Maybe the other team doesnt know how to surrender. But honestly, just get this to top it off. 100 ability power and 50 armor = win, and also an active ability which is like having kayles ultimate ready and waiting for whenever they focus you, giving your teammates some time to haxpwn them for every touching thier Sona and her majestic boobs... i mean etwahl.
But maybe, just maybe the other team catches on too quickly and targets you every time. Well, time for some payback.
So, versus people like Yi, Thornmail is hilarious, returning damage back to them while taking reduced damage is like a massive **** you to carries.
Vs everyone, Guardian Angel is great. Its a great mindgame to play also, as people are tempted to hang around to get the kill, which usually means your team has killed them by then, and you pop back up, heal, and everythings fine.
Frozen Heart is a nice armour item, which also gives reduced cooldowns, mana, and an aura making your enemies attack slower. Nice counter for carries, and while more of a tank item, you could take it if in need.
Banshee's Veil is great when facing people who like to nuke you. it blocks a spell every 30 seconds, allowing you more freedom, it also gives you mana and health for AP and survivability.
Well, we are close to the end, but before I leave, this is my personal opinion of a generalised game as Sona.
Early Game / Laning Phase
You arent solo laning. If you want that, go look up Janna and not Sona. Sona dual lanes. So go to your lane with your partner, harass the enemy with your Q ability, and when power chord has 2 stacks, wait in the brush if you can while attacking minions, wait till they come close, and do a combo of Q and your empowered auto attack. It should knock off a decent chunk of health and scare them. Keep doing this and pushing them back, attack the turret if possible, and get as much money as you can. You should only really go back when you have enough money for Tear of the Godess. When you real level 6 and the enemies are at about 50% health or so, coordinate with your partner to try to fall back, then run in to gank, using your ulti just as they try to run, if done right, you should get an easy kill / assist. Keep farming and getting your items in accordance to what has already been stated.
Mid Game / Ganking
By now you should have at least tear/boots/soulstealer, and maybe even archangels if your good. Your team is pushing well and you start to move together to gank the poor unsuspecting enemies. This is where your heal comes in handy, as you can survive the slow trickle of damage that comes in. The most important thing however, is to be selfish and stay alive. Dont run in if your team is going into certain death. Dont hang around to heal if its hopeless, and run away when someone goes after you. youve done your bit by distracting them, theres no need to die. If you can stay alive, so can your team, so a bit of selfishness here is good. You are still a support though, so do support.
By now you should have most of your items and your an unstoppable... support. Hopefully your team has ganked the enemies multiple times, and its starting to become long respawns. The goal here, is to stay alive, and keep the team alive, as unlike midgame, without your team, your not really that strong, so you need to be more risky, getting closer to the fights, however still remember to look after yourself, a dead support isnt helping anyone. Generally in a fight I do this.
Always checking for a right time to ultimate
1: Run in after your team and use heal
2: when close, use damage
3: in downtime, use movement speed
4: run back and wait for heal.
This makes you harder to target as your only staying for short periods of time, and the movement speed buff as you leave helps you back out, and it annoys the hell out of the enemies when they think they can catch you but they cant. Also, remember you have flash. It can, and will save your life.
Some Results of Games
Thanks for reading this, i hope it was good for my first guide, and constructive critism would be nice, and help with runes would be appreciated, as im nowhere near an expert in the matter. Thanks again, and goodbye.