So as some of you may know, I've been playing Karma a lot. I play her top and I've only tried her out bottom, so this thread is more of a "karma top" thread. I've figured out how to play her on Dominion with some extremely successful results. I will tell you what I think about her and the kinds of builds I go for.
How I play Karma:
I always start boots+chalice+2 hp pots+1mana pot when I play top lane. I was experimenting with other builds and starting items recently, but I believe this to be the best for a basic game (2ad 2ap top against you). You're obviously going to want to start different if they're all AD.
When the game starts, I will play as if I'm support in Summoners Rift. I might get a minion kill or two, but my focus at the start is not really to get kills, but to make sure my team gets the kills. Why? Karma's early game damage is quite weak and if you burn all her Mantra's early, you're doing it wrong (will elaborate on Mantra later).
Once the game starts picking up and I have my starting items, I change into "AP Karma mode". I actually can chase people down and kill them quite easily 1v1. Of course there are some champions who will kill Karma in any 1v1 situation, but for the most part she's a strong duelist. Deathcap is an item I frequently buy.
Then, late game is where I can really show how Karma works. A mantra on her Q will do wonders in team fights. You can dish out a good 400-600 damage with one Q and if it has a Mantra, your team just got +10% hp healed. Your Nocturne dives in against 3 other opponents and takes some damage, mantra+shield him for funny results. I never really stop playing her as a support, but because of her skill set, I can play her as a support and AP champion at the same time.
Items I frequently build on Karma:
(IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)
Athene's Unholy Grail (usually rushed), Death Cap, Defense boots (ninja/merc), Aegis of the Legion, Abyssal Scepter, Frozen Heart, Haunting Guise, Hextech Sweeper, Sorc Shoes, Void Staff, Zeke's Herald, Zhonya's Hourglass.
But wait, that's more than 6 items! I know! I included the items I will build if the enemy team has more AP than AD, or more AD than AP. These are just the items I grab the most.
How I use Karma's skills
Karma's skills have a medium cooldown range, but they're still fairly long. Getting CDR (as with most champions) is a priority.
Here is a link to Karma's skills if you want to read up on the details for them:
Heavenly Wave (Q) - I use this skill for poking a majority of the time but if I see 2+ teammates near each other who need health I won't hesitate to burn a Mantra on the team heal (it heals you too). Another good time to use this is in the confusing of team fights. If you see a lot of players going at it, throwing a Mantra'd Q in the mix can change team fights quickly.
Spirit Bond (W) - This one is a bit tricky. If there's a Hecarim in the game, you should ALWAYS be using it on him all the time. Ally or foe, it will help you out a huge amount. If no Hecarim is in the game, then my priority for this skill changes.
When I'm chasing someone down I will use it on them to slow them down. If I'm chasing someone with a teammate, I will decided if throwing it on a teammate will benefit the game more than throwing it on the enemy. The process for deciding who to throw it on can be decided by if your teammate with you has a slow of some kind (phage/skills that slow). If they do, you give them the speed boost so they can utilize the slow.
If I'm under attack by two or more people, I'll use it on the guy furthest away from me so it does the damage to everyone in between.
Throw down the link first in battle, and then start to run around so the link will damage enemy champions and minions at the same time that you are casting your other skills.
Soul Shield (E) - Her most known skill I would say, but most over rated. Yes, it will help you clear minion waves and save lives - but this skill really comes down to Mantra. Using it without Mantra is something that can be described as an obvious choice. If you're getting chased, saving an ally from quick damage, or blocking something like Caitlyns ult or running over traps to block damage, that's a place where you can use it without Mantra fine.
**Fun fact** The way minion waves "push" is quite linear, boring, and simple. If your minions have at least ONE more "hit" than the enemy waves minion, they _WILL_ push the enemy tower to a neutralize if the other team doesn't stop it. Throwing a soul shield on the front melee minion will actually make it seem like the minion waves are even but most players will forget and you will get the neutralize with just that. I've done it in so many games.
Mantra (R) - The big Karma skill. This skill is the one that seporates good Karma players from bad ones. It's the skill shot for her. If you play Ezreal or Lux, how you judge their game-play is how often they land their skill shots right? The same can be said for Karma. How you manage your Mantras greatly defines your skill.
Matra with Q - I will use this just about as frequently as I do with the soul shield but it's just as "situational". The absolute best time to use this is during a skirmish or team battle where you can hit both your team and the enemy team. Healing your team and hurting their team with one skill? Yeah, that's really good.
Mantra with W - This one is pretty lame but I will give you the three times I will use it, ever.
1) Friendly or enemy Hecarim. I shouldn't have to explain here.
2) I have 2 Mantra's (can't get a third) so I'll use it on an ally to chase someone down
3) At the start of the game you can use a Mantra and get it back by the time you get into the first fight. Using a Mantra'd W out the starting gate is very smart. This can also be applied to respawning champions. If you have 2 Mantra's and you just respawned/recalled with someone, use it!
Mantra with E - This will probably deal the most damage out of all of your skills. Knowing when to use it will make or break a Karma player.
Best times to use it: Fighting in a 1v1, defending a tower against any number of players (just make sure it hits), a team member who just jumped into battle (Riven/Nocturne/Malphite/etc), and clearing out minion waves that pose a threat to your tower health.
Bad times to use it: When it hits nobody (duh), when it's your last Mantra and you wont get another one until the full cooldown time.
Karma's current state in Dominion:
Karma is a very strong pick but only if you are on the right team. Simply picking Karma doesn't guarantee a victory like Jayce or Kassadin does. The best team she works with is someone who can shield themselves (Riven/Skarner for example) and/or tanky players (Malphite/Wukong type of champs). If your entire team is squish, don't pick Karma. It's really hard to protect 3 people with only 1 shield.
That being said. there are other supports who can do what Karma does even better. Lulu and Sona are better picks if you're in blind pick mode. I would much rather have one of those two on my team before Karma. They just do everything Karma does except better. Of course someone who is a skilled Karma player will do better than someone who is just learning Lulu or Sona. Karma needs buffs, but that's an old story nobody wants to hear because they hear it all the time.
In tournament settings, I would rank her as stated below in terms of support players:
I don't know much about Zyra or Leona to place them in this list, but of the champions I have played with, the above order is my personal preference.
Sometimes I feel that I do good with Karma because I understand how she works after playing her for so long against people who would probably never see Karma in any other situation.
Off topic buff ideas:
I've heard some people give ideas on how to buff her - the majority of them are "just remake her"
I think that her skill kit is fine, but it does need a buff. Not in damage, not in cooldowns, but in the Mantra.
My buff proposal: Let Mantra's come back faster. Having 3 would make her op, but having them come back faster would be a nice touch.
Additionally, when you're buffing a skill with Mantra, the range on the skill should be increased. The Q has a bigger cone, her W has a longer tether length and her E should get a bigger AoE and you should be able to use it from further away than normal. These buffs wouldn't increase her damage, shield amount, or tether speed. Only the things I listed would be in addition.
If I feel like it I'll add more to this thread, but I feel like I got the basics out of the way. Enough for people to understand my playstyle and how she has potential to be one of the best support champions for Dominion. RIOT PLS BUFF KARMA
[ Obligatory @RiotGuinsoo ]
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