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
Sona Build Guide by kooba
Sona, traditional support at low elo
creating helpful guides for the League of Legends community.
Many people say not to play the traditional supports in low elo soloq, but I've made a habit of it. The advantage of playing non-traditional supports in low elo soloq is that you can personally carry the game if things go poorly during the laning phase, or in the event that your team's ADC is simply a bad player. Playing the traditional supports has the disadvantage of making you somewhat reliant upon the rest of your team to actually achieve victory. You can play perfectly, cc the enemy's threats every fight, peel for your carries, and place 100 wards, but it's ultimately up to the rest of your team if they want to win or not. For this reason, building AP or playing a non-traditional support is preferable, until you get to a higher elo, where you can pretty much trust that your adc will not be a bad player. This "critical threshold" of elo necessary for you to trust your team is probably around high gold or low platinum.
For those of you who want to play the normal supports anyway, this is for you.
A long time ago, I used 9 flat armor yellows, 9 flat magic resist blues, 9 AD reds, and 3 gold quints. Most of this setup is pretty straightforward, but the AD reds might need justification. Since Sona does auto-attack a lot, the AD reds gave a tiny bit of extra damage, and conrtribute to your ability to harass. Since this is your main job while in lane, I thought this was a good idea, but after some playtesting, I found that the overall amount of damage it gave you was negligible, and it falls off late game. If you're very aggrssive and like auto-attacking, AD reds might be the way to go, but I feel that there are better options.
The second set of runes I landed on kept the 9 armor yellows, 9 magic resist blues, and 3 gold quints, but exchanged the AD reds for AP reds. The logic was that Sona's Q, W, and R all have AP scaling, and therefore a little bit of AP would increase her harass on Q, her sustain on W, and burst from her ult. However, since 9 AP reds only give you 5.31 ability power, it was not worth it. Her Q only has a .7 ap ratio, so the damage increase from 6 ap was only about 4 points of damage, before reductions from magic resist. Likewise, her W's .25 AP scaling made use of the extra 5 AP with a whopping 2 points increase on the heal.
The third set of runes I tried kept the same yellows, blues, and quints, but exchanged the AP reds for Magic Pen reds. The logic is that her main job during laning is to harass, and since her Q is her primary source of damage, magic pen should help with this. When I learned that her passive deals magic damage, and therefore would be helped by magic pen in addition to her Q, this setup provides the most damage so far. This is the page I used for the longest time, and was the best up until the page I use currently.
Finally, the page I use currently again keeps the same yellows, blues, and quints, but exchanges the Magic Pen reds for Hybrid Pen reds. The difference between a full set of Hybrid Pen reds and Magic Pen reds is only 3 less magic pen, but you gain 9 Armor Pen, which helps Sona since she does auto-attack a lot.
When you're just having fun, use a full set of Crit Chance reds. They're not the best, but the all-chat messages asking how you're doing so much damage are sometimes fun.
Hopefully my explanation of what runes I used to use, and why I used them, as well as why I switched helps you to find some runes you think work the best.
Lots of supports put one point into offense in order to get Summoner's Wrath. This is really good if you're using Exhaust, for the 5 point Magic Resist and Armor shred. This helps a lot with those early 2v2 fights. A point can easily be dropped from Intelligence from the Utility tree to make room for it.
I feel that the 9 points in Defense (4 points in Durability, 1 point in Veteran's Scars, 3 points in Hardiness, and 1 point in Resistance) are necessary, since Sona is the least durable champion in the game. If the enemy support deals a great deal of magic damage, such as Zyra or the Sona mirror match, you might want to divert one point of Hardiness into a second point of Resistance, so it's a 2 and 2 split. Many AD carries, such as Tristana, deal magic damage too, so perhaps make this change once you see what you're up against.
9/9/12 is a nice set up, but it prevents you from getting Explorer and Wealth, both of which I feel are important. This set up does allow you to get Arcane Knowledge, which provides a more offensive build, but the utility of Wealth and Explorer are more important in my opinion.
You can choose to skip the Philo Stone, and just get the Sighstone as early as possible. This is fine if you don't plan on buying one of the items that Philo builds into. I personally really like both Mikael's and Shurelya's, so I do usually buy the Philo stone and let it sit for a while, until I buy one of those two items later.
Nobody ever uses Clairvoyance, but it's a good spell, and I wish I could use it more, but Exhaust, Ignite, and Flash are too good to pass up, unfortunately.