This is my first guide pretty much... ever. The format I just looked at what others generally used on the board and copied it. I have not seen much talk or in the way of guides for Soraka, so I decided I should create one for this much maligned hero. Any constructive criticism and disagreements, as well as where improvements can be made will be much appreciated. Also note that this guide is based upon random group play, as I have not played Soraka in organized games.
Soraka is a heavily frowned upon hero choice. Contrary to her "easy" rating given in game on her overview, I think she is quite difficult to learn. You gotta know when to hold and when to fold in a major way. In the hands of someone who does not know how to play her, I agree, this is a very poor hero choice. A bad soraka is worse than just about any other hero you could have picked; others heroes will at least be able to do damage without knowing what you are doing. Secondly, this character must transform from heavy harasser to aggresive supporter. I have found sitting in the back with Soraka to be possibly the worst decision you can make.
The pros and cons listed are as I play her... Maybe there is an attack build where she does a ton of normal damage, but this is not it. Other heroes do that better anyways.
-Early game can be lane dominant.
-Low mana cost abilities.
-Starcall can be a good farming tool.
-Healing machine late game.
-Good hp potential.
-Damaging instant silence.
-Caster with short range.
-Becomes increasingly reliant on allies starting mid game.
-Cannot hold her own 1v1 against intelligent enemies as the game progresses.
-Low burst, low killing power.
-If the overall skill on your team is low, this is a very bad hero.
BLUE: CD Reductions
You want wish to have as low a CD as possible, to be able to toss out infuse when needed and have the CD pop up again for silencing uses, and to be able to drop starcall as quick as possible in group fights, and by end game to have wish around 35-40 seconds.
You want a large hp pool. Very large. If a game goes late, you need probably 3k hp or more.
RED: Armor Penetration
The reason? Early game harassment, you want to hit as hard as you can. Late game it will be negligeable, but hitting for 60-80 damage a shot early game is important.
BLACK: -1.54% CD Reductions
I choose Exhaust and Ghost Walk. You have no snares as Soraka, so Exhaust gives you a snare to help with kills, and also doubles as an escape tool. Can also be used during team fights to remove anyone reliant on regular attacks from having any impact for 3.5 (with talent) seconds. Ghost Walk lets you catch people, and get away, and can be nice in group fights when you need to get out or to the outer edge.
9/0/21: The best mastery pick in my opinion. Get improved exhaust, CD reduction, and magical penetration in combat. In utility, I get the cd reductions, +5% xp, improved ghost walk, Meditation, quickness. You want talents that will help with regeneration, lower your cooldowns, and let you do your aggressive support job better.
Starcall: The first skill i pick, always. Does very decent AOE damage, gets 0.25*AP. Use this to weaken the creeps and for a hit on enemy heroes when they come in range. This skill is how you deal damage and how you make money. The range is relatively short, but feels larger than it looks. Has to be used carefully and effectively while not putting yourself in too much danger. In group fights, it whittles away at the enemy team while also applying a stacking debuff to the enemy heroe's magic resistance.
Astral Blessing: The second skill i pick, almost always. The mana cost goes up somewhat proportionally to the amount of healing it does, so I tend to leave this alone after 1 point for a while. Gives a HoT that scales decently with AP, at something like 0.1*AP per second for a 12 second period. I think it could use a slight buff, maybe to 0.125 or 0.15 from AP. This also gives an armor buff... which I wish also scaled with the level of the skill. I like to drop this on a hero leading into a fight.
Infuse: Soraka's most important skill. Good use of Infuse can make or break your game, literally. You want to have this available whenever you are going to fight someone as a lead in, or when you see an enemy coming at you to drop on them, or to interrupt channeling. When you don't forsee needing it and need mana, use it to replenish mana. But hopefully you generally have enough regen to keep this handy offensively or to replenish an allies mana. Try not to get into fights with this ability on cool down, though in group fights you might not be able to help it. This spell also does damage to enemy targets equal to 80% of the mana it would restore to an ally, plus 0.4*AP.
Wish: Also a very imortant skill. Gets I believe ~2.16*AP added to its effect. When you have wish up, you should be watching your minimap constantly. If someone engages enemy heroes, watch their health. Drop this when/if they need it, and use it as a mass topper during moments where sustainability is needed. Proper use of wish is the second thing that can make or break your choice in Sokara as a hero. If you aren't using it right, you picked the wrong hero. It can be difficult, but you need to pay attention everytime your team engages the enemy no matter where they are on the map.
The following is a general outline for what I pick skillwise. Conditions within a given game can and will change this order, there is just no helping it. For instance, if you aren't taking much damage in your lane, putting off Astral Blessing a level or two is fine, or if my mana and harassment is going fine without infuse I will pick up the second level of starcall first. If there is a lot of skirmishing mid game, I may simply dump every point into infuse above any other skill except wish, whenever i can.
1 - Starcall
2 - Astral Blessing
3 - Infuse
4 - Starcall
5 - Infuse
6 - Wish
7 - Starcall
8 - Infuse
9 - Astral Blessing
11 - Wish
12 - Infuse
13 - Starcall
14 - Starcall
15 - Astral Blessing
16 - Wish
17 - Astral Blessing
18 - Astral Blessing
5. In Game Strategy
This section is based upon how game stages generally progress in my experience. Yours may be different, and I'd like to hear about it.
Always lane with someone else if you can help it. Always. You can help out your partner with sustainability, and they can help you with killing power. Soraka should be at her most aggresive early game. Each creep wave needs to be eating one or two starcalls, melee heroes that get too close need to be hit, as do ranged heroes that expose themselves. Punish your enemies for being aggresive and for their mistakes. Even small amounts of damage early game can add up quickly, and this creates opportunity of do they play more cautious, do they heal? This creates opportunities for you to capitalize on for and get a kill, if they stubbornly stay in the lane beyond their capacity to maintain themselves.
Melee going in for an attack? Hit him with a ranged attack and a starcall if you can help it. Did you take damage? Drop a HoT on yourself. Is singed running in to throw you? Silence him and run. The second he goes to run, turn around and hit him and starcall. If you have an ally, exhaust him and nuke his ass. Punish melee for coming after you too hard. Don't be foolishly aggressive though. You don't chase people, unless you are going to get the kill. If you don't get 1 kill, but you kept them pushed back to their tower, and harassed them to where they were afraid of you, you did your early game job well. If you fear your enemies more than they fear you during this stage, you could be in trouble.
Mid Game (level 6+)
In my experience this is generally the Gank stage. With the ultimates comes higher burst and more opportunities for kills. Starcaller becomes a very good money maker, you can easily wipe creep waves with it. I don't often see 5v5 fights in this stage, but a lot of smaller scale scuffles, consisting of hit and runs and pushes for kills as someone else runs. Your attention now needs to expand to a global perspective, with your itchy finger on the wish trigger. That spell isn't there just for you, it isn't there just to save a team mate next to you, its there to help a team mate out even if he is on the opposite side of the map from you.
During this phase you should be ready to switch lanes, group up, heal, maintain kills and group pushes. Proper use of Infuse becomes paramount here. I tend to let others initiate, and then i will hop into the mix, dropping starcalls, silencing their highest priority nuker if I can, and making good use of exhaust. Having wish up is helpful.
Higher hp becomes important here. You have to be close to your enemies to do anything to them. All of Soraka's abilities and attacks, aside from wish, are short range. This means... you don't sit back in group fights, or you are WORTHLESS. I cannot stress this point enough. Say it with me... as Soraka, I will get my ass into the mix during group fights. When a fight starts, you slap astral blessing on your ally that is the most likely target, you get in, you infuse a high priority target to silence them, you start spamming starcalls, watch for the right moment to use exhaust, spam more starcalls, if you still have exhaust at the end, hit someone trying to run away with it and ride their ass. There are much higher priority targets than you generally, and if they do hit you, thats why i say hp is important. You will take damage with this character. It is honestly a matter of experience as to how well you come out in these fights.
This is when 5v5 and 4v4's are not uncommon, and bases are being pushed hard. Your role is much the same as it was mid game, only you should almost never be running around alone. Any good hero that catches you alone here will make dog meat out of you. Soraka cannot compete late game with the bursting power and snares available to other heroes. Escape is possible, but you will burn your hero spells doing it, and maybe your wish too. The last paragraph of the Mid Game section defines what you should be doing here as well. Just do not get caught alone.
6. Item Choices
The first item i get always is a mana manipulator. If you lane with another mana user, thats 14.2 mana per 5, as well as builds into my first choice item the soul shroud. Often i will grab boots of speed next, and then build the soul shroud which gets you a nice hp bonus and a very powerful aura. This depends on my need for speed versus how much gold I have when I recall the first time.
After this it becomes tricky. By late game you need some AP to help with your heals and increase your damage a little, but you also need HP and a high mana pool to maintain starcall spams and the huge amount of casting you have to do. Right now, Rod of Ages is my favorite first upgrade build after shroud and boots. Gives hp, mana, and ap as well as grows a bit as the game progresses. Rylai's Scepter gives hp and ap, as well as gives an otherwise snareless character a spammable snare. A tear of the godess could also be a good choice at this point to begin expanding your mana pool, and later upgrade into an archangels. You just have to begin weighing your personal needs and the needs of the group, and how much damage you find you are taking or expect to be taking and start working on an item from there.
EDIT 1: Changed item section.
Great 'mini' guide.
Soraka is basically agreed to be one of the weakest heroes in the game, however, she is also underated.
She's like Keeper of the Light in DotA - a great support, but requires a specific line-up to make her worth picking.
Laning with a hero who doesn't have a lot of mana naturally is great.Infuse will allow them to have almost infinitive mana to harass enemy heroes.
In some ways she is underpowered... I think some of her abilities could use with a little more scaling. But using the strategy i outline above, I have had a lot of success with her, and have been winning far more games than i've been losing. Again of course, that is in the random game scene, and I do know that organized games are different. Trying to get in a bunch of premade games if i can and see how it changes.
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