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[Guide] Face Melting Music (aka Self-Reliant Sona)

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Spiffy McBang

Senior Member

09-27-2010

Edit 10/5/10: Rejiggered build to show more respect to Archangel's.
Edit 7/13/11: Back after several months, reflects loss of Zhonya's Ring (QQ) and other items.

Sona is a support character. Every ability she has is designed to enhance not only herself, but her team. That's all well and good. But the problem some people have with support characters is their helplessness. If you don't have a friend around to protect you while you sneak a few last hits and rack up some assists, you're basically floating useless, maybe pinging away at minion packs near a turret so you can farm up some meager sum of cash a little beyond the normal tick of the game's free gold. And you ask: Is that all there is to life in LoL Support Land, floundering around until some kind carry comes by, gracing you with the ability to help them revel in glory?

No.

This Sona build and strategy are not going to make you a rampaging killer. But because you're constantly in team fights, where most Sonas might expect a finishing line like 2/2/19, yours is more likely to read 7/2/14. Not only will you reap the extra gold and Mejai's stacks from those kills, it makes you a viable minion-clearer during slow times, and if the game goes particularly well, an actual pusher.

One thing to keep in mind: This has been created based on normal, solo queue games, where you have no idea what skill level your teammates will possess and cannot rely on your lane partners (or even carries) to make good use of the gold you try to feed them through last hits on minions and enemy champs. Sona is not at all a champion for selfish players, but this guide exhibits a somewhat selfish method of playing her in the name of enhancing your ability to help the team in critical moments.

The Basics

Spells

[Q] Hymn of Valor - Persistent Aura: Sona plays the Hymn of Valor, increasing nearby allied champions Damage and Ability Power by 8/11/14/17/20.

Activation: Sona fires bolts of sound, dealing 70/120/170/220/270 (+0.6) magic damage to the nearest two enemies (prioritizes champions).

Cost: 55/60/65/70/75 Mana
Range: 700
Cooldown: 6 seconds

Nothing complicated, but it's your key spell. Max it first; this is where your self-sufficiency and kills come from. Always have it up in a teamfight (twisting with either W or E depending on if you need healing or speed- or all three once your CDR is capped). Also, although you may be using your heal a lot in circumstances such as knocking down a turret after a team fight, make sure you twist this in to keep everyone's damage up and get the turret down faster.

[W] Aria of Perseverance - Persistent Aura: Sona plays the Aria of Perseverance, increasing nearby allied champions Armor and Magic Resist by 8/11/14/17/20.

Activation: Sona sends out healing melodies, healing Sona and the most wounded nearby allied champion by 40/65/90/115/140 (+0.5).

Cost: 55/60/65/70/75 Mana
Range: 1000
Cooldown: 6 seconds

Given how low the CD on this becomes, the 0.5 multiplier is not a problem. You're going to use a lot of mana healing, say, a fed Cho'gath, but most teammates will get pumped back to solid HP in a few casts. Because you'll be playing her offensively, this stays low for a while, but starts to become a major tool in the low double-digit levels.

[E] Song of Celerity - Persistent Aura: Sona plays the Song of Celerity, granting nearby allied champions 8/11/14/17/20 bonus Movement Speed.

Activation: Sona energizes nearby allies, granting them 8/11/13/17/20% Movement Speed for 1.5 seconds.

Cost: 55/60/65/70/75 Mana
Range: 1000
Cooldown: 6 seconds

The uses should be obvious- speed kills, and this gives it to your whole team.

[R] Crescendo - Sona plays her ultimate chord, forcing enemy champions in a line in front of her to dance, taking 150/250/350 (+0.7) magic damage over 1.5 seconds.

Cost: 100/150/200 Mana
Range: 1100
Cooldown: 145 seconds

The cooldown makes this something you don't want to use lightly, but don't hold back too much either. It's great if you can line up a bunch of enemies in it and get them kicking up their heels while your team beats on their faces, but if you can stomp one at half-health, that's fine. It's also a defensive tool; enemy chasers tend to be clumped or strung out in a line. Either way they're vulnerable to an R blast, then a quick E aura to get yourself and any wounded teammates out of there.

[Passive] Power Chord - After casting 3 spells, Sona's next attack deals 24 + 12 x lvl bonus magic damage.

Additionally, Sona's Auras persist for 3 seconds after deactivating and set off a 2 second global cooldown.

The first passive is very nice for early harassment. Just get the bonus damage up, then slide in for a Q + auto. It's less useful later on, although certainly more damage is better than less.

The second passive is the source of her late game excellence, easily twisting two and three auras together to give her teammates multiple boosts at once. Because this guide does not detail a mana/mana regen heavy build, it takes a little more thoughtfulness than just facerolling QWE to play her, but it's still fairly simple and effective.

Runes

Red: Magic Pen. Always good for any champ who will fling spells at the enemy.
Yellow: Mana regen per level. There isn't much better choice anyway, but it's especially critical using this build.
Blue: CDR. Again, critical. If you're low level and can't manage much CDR through runes, you may even consider small shifts in your build to compensate, but more likely the play at low levels won't make it necessary for you to max CDR as quickly as possible.
Quints: Flat HP. Sona is incredibly squishy, and if you're playing at 30 without HP quints you're almost forced to start with a Doran's Ring. That will set you back more with this build than most.

Summoner Spells

Clarity is a necessity. Sona can be viably played without it, but as mentioned this build does not focus on additional mana until late and is relatively light on mana regen. As such, even endgame Clarity will restore a huge percentage of your mana. Take it.

The other one is more suit-to-taste; I use Flash. As with many champs, it's good for quick attacks, especially given the range of her Q spell, on top of the escape capability.

It's actually easier to say what not to take. Don't take teleport; it's utterly unnecessary given the build. Heal is only of use early- this build is strong on AP, so your heal spell starts to carry the day quickly. Obviously don't choose Revive, Smite or Rally. But if you like one of the rest better than Flash, go for it.

Masteries

9/0/21. Again, CDR is the key, and this gives you Intelligence (6% CDR) and Sorcery (3% CDR) as well as the magic pen from 9 in Offense. I have points in the Clarity and Flash boosts; if you choose something besides Flash, then you'll have a point to play with.

Skill Order

1. Hymn (Q)
2. Aria (W)
3. Hymn
4. Song (E)
5. Hymn
6. Crescendo (R)

After that, R > Q > W > E.

Rationale: Sona's Q is extremely strong, if you max it first. The range forces literally any enemy in your lane to stay honest, because if you get the range right basically no one can hit you without getting hit first. You can hit them with it often enough that they can't wait for it and then jump on you; if they want to come after you, they have to just do it. It outpaces the boosts in minion health, making your Q an effective double last-hit tool from about level 5 on. And most champs, especially if they're at all squishy, have to respect the damage you can put out at early levels. If your lane partner is suitably aggressive but not suicidal (given your heal, even though it's small, they should not be completely passive), you should be able to stuff the other pair back by their turret.

The other option some people use is to pump W. This is very effective in making your lane a bulwark against the enemy early, but you have very little to offer in terms of killing the other team. Because of that, not only are you less likely to rack up gold from kills or assists, but the other team will more readily be able to push back and get last hits of their own without having to time it against turret shots.

If you're in a terrible matchup and the other team can be aggressive without fearing you, for whatever reason, by all means switch to W for survival and just don't die. But this should be a rare occurrence.

Items

(Props to LSeven916 for getting me started on this.)

Everyone loves their Innervating Locket. I don't blame them. It's nice! But it's expensive, and it has no AP. Because we want to be more dangerous than the average Sona, we need some AP quickly. And AP is good for your team- of all the support roles you play, the most visceral is that of healer, and you'll need a good amount of AP to get those solid heals rolling. So while the Locket isn't out of the question, we'll save it for now.

Item Order

Start: Meki's Pendant + 2 HP pots

Smart aggressiveness is the key here. But no one's perfect, and any aggressiveness can potentially make you vulnerable; the HP pots allow you to heal quickly in case something goes wonky and you get beat up early on.

Fiendish Codex
Boots of Mobility
Mejai's Soulstealer
Spirit Visage

The Codex is first, as it offers precisely what you need- a strong early AP boost and extra CDR on top of the mana regen you already have. Not only that, you get it for only 855 gold! (Not including the Meki's.)

The next three items are interchangeable. Early pressure working? Looks like a game that can get on an early roll? Mejai's. Relative stalemate? Boots. Everything going to hell? Need something, anything, for defense? Spirit Visage. Usually the Visage will come last.

(Why Boots of Mobility? Merc Treads are mainly for the CC reduction, but Sona is so squishy- at least with this build- that even a shortened CC will probably get her killed. Swiftness is for champs who need to move fast in combat, but again, if Sona needs to escape and is unwillingly in direct combat for more than a few seconds, she's probably dead. Between E and the base 2 move bonus, and especially if Flash is up, Sona can generally get out of combat long enough to trigger the Mobility boost. And with Mobility and E spam, she absolutely flies, allowing her reach friends or get back into the fight from base with a minimum of downtime without teleport. If the game starts so well you don't expect much of a challenge, you can go with Sorc Boots, but because this is an aggressive style of play, the speed has significant benefit in keeping you alive and your Mejai stacks intact.)

What you should notice about all these items is that they're cheap. You'll finish your first four items for a grand total of 4730g, including the 405g left over after pots from the start. But they offer mana regen, AP (potentially a boatload of AP), crazy speed, magic resist, and most importantly, near-max CDR. It should be fairly common, with a moderately successful lane, to purchase multiple items in one trip, even early. If forced back by damage or (say it ain't so!) death, you can choose your items based on available funds- usually this will mean buying boots instead of Mejai's, or perhaps parts of each.

Archangel's
Rabadon's Deathcap
Deathfire Grasp

Previously there were some situational options you could use. Now, without Zhonya's Ring there's no reason to avoid Archangel's, and since the main reason behind taking Zhonya's Ring was the offense, Rabadon's is the clear choice for the sixth slot. If you're swimming in cash when all that's done, turn your Codex into a Deathfire

Strategies

Now that you've seen how little mana Spammy Sona has to use here, it's time to figure out how to make it work.

Early Game

First, take Q, then cast it three times at your fountain for a bonus damage buff on your first auto attack.

Pick a side lane. You can go with just about anyone, as long as they're competent. Ranged characters make for piss-easy harass, whereas a melee partner gives you less competition for last hits and better protection if the other team decides to get after you.

The most critical aspect of playing Sona this way is to learn the range on her Q. Play with a conservative aggressiveness- push forward, but don't concern yourself with wasting a Q on minions because you weren't close enough. It doesn't take too long to get a feel for it, and staying at that max range is how you can harass without taking a shot in return. And if your bonus damage is up, unless you're facing a melee champion with some sort of quick approach and ability to stick to you, you'll almost always win that harass. (Then you heal while they cry by their turrets.) And missed Qs with enemy minions around just make pushing forward that much easier.

In short, your goal is to minimize incoming damage while maximizing damage dealt. This will greatly reduce your need for healing, which allows the level 1 W to be effective for your purposes. And as long as you maintain proper distance, the enemy will have to move back or else keep walking into your range.

Once you have the enemy champs locked by their turrets at half HP, it's time to go to work. Get all the last hits you can; if mana allows, use Q for this, especially at level 5 (Q level 3) and later. Tap two minions down to relatively equal health, then position yourself so those are the two closest and kill them both. Also, keep major pressure on the enemies. They'll step out from time to time to try and catch last hits, especially if they're melee. Get in there and Q them. If they're going for last hits, then their turret is shooting your minions, which means you get that pause between shots to escape without getting tagged.

If your teammate knows how to tower dive, then unless you're facing another healer, eventually you'll drive one or both out of the lane, or get an opportunity for a rush. Sometimes it's correct to join the rush, but because you don't have boots and only a level 1 E, you'll be extremely vulnerable. If your teammate is melee, concern yourself more with knocking them down to the point where s/he can rush and take them down alone. If you're with a ranged, then it depends on whether you've hit 6 or not (many ults can finish the job) and how ballsy your partner is.

Stay in lane for as long as you can, so you can buy as much at once as possible. Don't sit on Clarity- if you don't have enough mana to do whatever you want to do, use it. If your partner is a mana user, try to ration your mana use so that you both get maximum effectiveness out of the spell. The cooldown with the talent isn't so short that you can spam away, but if you ignore keeping specific auras up and instead focus on either Q for damage and W for healing, you can make it last quite a while, especially if you're under no pressure.

If you're going to die, this is the point in the game where it's not that painful. Some people hold back their aggressiveness to be sure they don't get ganked, but this is where you can really impact whether or not you get a kill and the associated money boost. (You'll probably get kills later, just auto attacking and popping Q over and over in team fights, but that's just a matter of timing.) If your lane opponents are proving dangerous, fall back and play conservatively, but don't fear the gank. If necessary, make it clear to your mid that you need MIA calls, and always be ready to bounce if your mid eats it and their mid vanishes from the lane. Sona does not have any real escapeability if flanked.

Mid-game

As with any Sona, stay with your team as much as possible; however, if it's one of those down moments where people start to jungle or farm minions, by all means go smack some golems or push on your enemy's minions. Your quickly-leveled Q and early AP items allow you to be effective at this, whereas a highly defensive Sona would have to just piss around and wait for another fight or farm slowly. In fact, if your AP gets high enough, fast enough, you can one-shot caster minions with Q, giving you the ability to wander over, Q, make two auto attacks (one with the bonus), clear the casters out of a group so your minions can pile up and swarm the enemy side lanes, and jet before the enemy has any chance of getting to you.

In teamfights, you may want to try and save everyone with heals. Unfortunately, that's not possible, even though you've been building AP. Accept this. Heal every time it's up, but don't just use Q for team damage; use those Q range skills you've been working on and pop enemy champs, and if possible take advantage of your aura spam to get bonus-damage auto attacks in. You won't do carry or nuker damage, so you won't become a special target of theirs (unless you're the squishiest- be aware of this!), but hitting anyone outside of a tank will take off a noticeable chunk. This helps them die faster, which boosts your assists, gold, and Mejai's stacks.

At this point you should have your four initial items, which means a 36+% CDR. If you spam, you can keep all three auras up now. However, do so sparingly. Learn when your team needs a given aura and anticipate when you need to turn it on. For example, if you have a lot of fast melee teammates, they often won't need a speed boost to keep up with their targets, and any ranged behind them will not be in immediate danger. Stick to Q and W, and pop E as soon as you see trouble or someone that needs chasing. Or, when chasing, if the enemy uses Flash and your team isn't in range- but they will be soon- save Q for when they actually can take a shot at someone. It takes more concentration, but not a ton, and you should hopefully have Clarity up as a backup. Short gaps between fights are often enough to cool it down.

(As a side note, this is another bonus to focusing on cheap items- if the fighting is fierce and mana does become an issue, it doesn't take too much gold to warrant a trip back for both healing and buying. Even at Zhonya's, it's just 1600 for the Rod.)

You should be building Mejai stacks now. This is where you want to do everything in your power to not die. If it's really dangerous in a fight, hang back, heal, and pop auras. But you should be able to pick spots to attack.

Late Game

This is where it turns more into Teamfight 101. You're support, so support your teammates. The carries should be murdering everyone, the tanks should be thick as redwoods, and your damage becomes a smaller percentage of the whole. Get your shots in so that you still pull assists, but now you're focused on everyone's survival and chasing down runners. Finish your build if you need to for that extra oomph, but now the game turns on other players, with you just trying to do your part for team success.

If you get to the point where everyone is filling out their six items, skip the situational item above for a bit and become a ward monkey. Stick 'em everywhere.

Comments and questions, of course, are welcome.


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ChadBroKill

Junior Member

09-27-2010

Nice guide, I will try this!


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Spiffy McBang

Senior Member

09-27-2010



Bump to rectify second-page status (does anyone go to page two looking for threads to read?).


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Stillhart

Senior Member

09-27-2010

This makes me want to go out and buy Sona right now. That first paragraph speaks to me. I enjoy playing support in general but I feel useless like 75% of the time as Soraka or Kayle. This build sounds like it takes some skill to do and can actually help the team out a lot early.

Curious to see if anyone else who has played Sona has any comments on whether this is actually viable or not.


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Tinker Gearsmith

Senior Member

09-27-2010

Just tried this build, and had my best sona game ever with 10/4/26, and the 4 deaths were entirely avoidable on my part.

Nice!


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Spiffy McBang

Senior Member

09-27-2010

Quote:
Stillhart:
This makes me want to go out and buy Sona right now. That first paragraph speaks to me. I enjoy playing support in general but I feel useless like 75% of the time as Soraka or Kayle. This build sounds like it takes some skill to do and can actually help the team out a lot early.

Curious to see if anyone else who has played Sona has any comments on whether this is actually viable or not.


It's viable in the games I play. >_> If you play good ranked matches or have 100 more wins than losses, then I can't say for sure. But it should be fine- the main source of its effectiveness laning comes from matchups, since most of the really dangerous champs have to get some kind of combo and/or gear to start rolling. If your opponents are good, your main concern will be with ganks from mid rather than getting beat down 2v2. If any part of that is unique to Sona, it's the fact that you can often lock down a lane so hard the mid can be fairly sure you'll be pushing up on the tower when they arrive.

It's possible you'll need to fill out your build (maybe even waiting on Zhonya's) for more mana and mana regen. If you find the game consists of long stretches out in the field with a team fight possible at almost any moment, and no realistic chance to go back and regen/buy, that's when something like an Archangel's would be handy. My experience is that this doesn't happen often, and teamfights lead to either your team getting beat down and you having to go back anyway, or you win, push turrets, and then have to retreat against a fully restored enemy team. But if this is more common in higher end competition, then you can adjust accordingly in terms of regular build.

Quote:
Tinker Gearsmith:
Just tried this build, and had my best sona game ever with 10/4/26, and the 4 deaths were entirely avoidable on my part.

Nice!


Kick ass. Glad the guide made sense enough to replicate.


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Supreme1337

Senior Member

09-27-2010

I think that it's much better to get an early Archangel's Staff. It gives ton of AP, and you're health quints should give you enough health early game. I follow with Sorcerer's Boots, Innervating Locket, and Lich Bane. If you can line up Hymn of Valor, a passive proc and a Lich Bane proc, you can melt a squishie's face off. Also I feel that by getting the mana regen masteries, meki pendant and some health pots, I don't need clarity. I prefer flash+cleanse or cleanse+clairvoyance.


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Spiffy McBang

Senior Member

09-27-2010

Quote:
Supreme1337:
I think that it's much better to get an early Archangel's Staff. It gives ton of AP, and you're health quints should give you enough health early game. I follow with Sorcerer's Boots, Innervating Locket, and Lich Bane. If you can line up Hymn of Valor, a passive proc and a Lich Bane proc, you can melt a squishie's face off. Also I feel that by getting the mana regen masteries, meki pendant and some health pots, I don't need clarity. I prefer flash+cleanse or cleanse+clairvoyance.


Note: I've altered the item section slightly to add ideas for working AA in.

That said, while this is a plenty strong set of items, and certainly has more burst potential than my build, the potential problems are what I alluded to earlier- it's expensive, and at the core Sona is still support. Maximum effectiveness in this plan comes from doing enough damage and getting it as soon as you can. AA and the Locket alone are as much as the core four items in the guide's build. Then you're adding on Lich Bane and Sorc Boots, which are almost 4600 more. The cheap items, combined with the skill build, are what allow you to be an early force.

Of course, it's possible you'll find yourself with a full build and money to burn. One of the other nice things about relying on cheaper items is that if you sell them, you're only out a few hundred gold- not much different than spending money on elixirs. If you find CDR elsewhere, the Spirit Visage is certainly expendable. I recommend Deathfire so you don't waste money, you cap CDR, and the active is a nice little boom, but if you're not a fan you can sell the Codex and pick up something else. That gives you early strength and a lot of flexibility if the game runs long.


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Tinker Gearsmith

Senior Member

09-27-2010

Also, as a final item, i tend to enjoy using a Will of the Ancients when I can get away with it. It meshes nicely with Sona's 'Q', and pushes your AP into the obscene range. As always, though, if you find yourself being CC'd a lot, get either a quicksilver sash or a Banshee's veil. I prefer the veil.


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Supreme1337

Senior Member

09-27-2010

Quote:
Spiffy McBang:
Note: I've altered the item section slightly to add ideas for working AA in.

That said, while this is a plenty strong set of items, and certainly has more burst potential than my build, the potential problems are what I alluded to earlier- it's expensive, and at the core Sona is still support. Maximum effectiveness in this plan comes from doing enough damage and getting it as soon as you can. AA and the Locket alone are as much as the core four items in the guide's build. Then you're adding on Lich Bane and Sorc Boots, which are almost 4600 more. The cheap items, combined with the skill build, are what allow you to be an early force.

Of course, it's possible you'll find yourself with a full build and money to burn. One of the other nice things about relying on cheaper items is that if you sell them, you're only out a few hundred gold- not much different than spending money on elixirs. If you find CDR elsewhere, the Spirit Visage is certainly expendable. I recommend Deathfire so you don't waste money, you cap CDR, and the active is a nice little boom, but if you're not a fan you can sell the Codex and pick up something else. That gives you early strength and a lot of flexibility if the game runs long.


I normally manage to finish Archangel's, Sorc Boots, Innervating Locket, and start the Lich Bane in most games. You get tons of gold from those 20+ assists each game, plus a couple kills.


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