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[guide] karma - an enlightenment

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hello everybody!

so, karma has been out a couple of days, and i noticed that there is no guide at all yet. ive been playing her a lot and worked out a build that id like to share with everyone. it focuses on getting life and ap and nuff cdr, making you an awesome supporter, but also able to deal quite some dmg without dying too fast.

for runes, i use
red: mpen
yellow: manareg/lvl
blue: manareg/lvl
quints: flat hp
i know they nerfed manareg runes, but they are still viable. if you find you dont need that much mana, you could switch yellows for dodge or lifereg and/or blues of some cdr.

for masteries, i use 9/21/0, pretty much in the standard way, with only putting 2 points in armor and grabbing that mana --> lifereg talent.

my summoner spells are ignite and flash. i prefer flash over ghost, as you have a built-in ghost with your w, but you sometimes just NEED to be somewhere very quickly or get away very quickly (flashing over walls wins). ignite just adds some extra dmg, helps against that mundo/vlad/warwick.... faction, and it will help you when finishing ppl off - flash in that turret/gank/base..., ignite, shield urself, walk out whistling your favourite song. if there is nuff ignite and dmg, you could also switch it for eg cleanse, teleport, fortify or clairvoyance, as you dont really need exhaust or ghost or heal, and this will help your team a lot. after all, were playing a supporter

sooo, now the most interesting part! the items.

core build:
dorans ring
ionian boots
spirit visage
rod of ages
---- you probably wont get much further, but ill come to that later.

i start off with a dorans ring. it has been nerfed, but its still really nice - it will give you a startup kit of ap, nearly as much mana reg as a meki pendant, and will make you some dungeon boss in hp matters :3
next item will be cdr boots (i love them) - i try to get near that 40% mark without taking blue buff, leave that one to the "dmg mages", theyll need it - and the carry will also love some cdr. if noone else needs it, take it, and get cc boots.
now we buy a ruby crystal and quickly upgrade it into ........*thinking* kindlegem (that red orb.. i always forget the name). this will get you to 28% cdr, we will leave it there for the moment, thats fine. upgrade it into spirit visage when you feel like (your heal isnt THAT great, but still, itll heal more - i usually do that after deathcap, but if you have the 700g left earlier or the enemy team has too much magic dmg, leave it out completely. jk, take it earlier then.)
next one iiiiiiiis rod of ages! in any order. usually i take ruby crystal, then cataclyst, then blasting wand, then complete. if your standing in that base with 900g, just take the wand.
its deathcap time now you wont be able to onehit ppl, but still, it adds so much dmg and shield absorption. it also synergizes nicely with your passive. (scroll down for that.. no wait, read on, i will get to it soon enough)
after that, the game is usually over (if not, PUSH NOW), but other nice items are just two more rods of ages (moar life ), a crystal sceptre, another hat, an aegis etc. dont bother about a guardian or an hourglass if you dont get focused, you should have enough survivability.. still, for the last slot a guardian might be nice. oh, sell dorans ring at that state, but you probably guessed that yourself. i keep it till rather late as it still provides the stats im building anyway (and manareg doesnt hurt after all). btw, get aegis earlier if ppl are too squishy.

now skills.
karma has this really nice feature of mantra. it sits where you usually have your r, you will have it at lvl 1 and dont have skill it at all (giving all your other attacks 6 ranks), and it greatly improves your attacks by adding an additional effect. you lose one stack upon activation (the next attack will then have the bonus effect), and gain a stack about every 20 seconds (scales with cdr ). unluckily, you only can have 2 stacks at a time. quite unfair if you ask me, as teemo can also carry 3 shrooms. i want 3 stacks. and poison. and stealth. and cookies.

karmas q, heavenly wave, is a cone formed aoe, and mantra adds a heal that heals yourself as well as all allies and creeps () in that cone. its range is about kassadins e. you will use that for harassing, finishing off ppl, and healing your allies - in that order. the ap ratio is ok, but the shield (her e) is so much nicer. still, if someone is at 2 hp, heal him, and if everyone is low in a group fight, throw in a heal + dmg. it has a pretty short cd, so feel free to spam it.

spirit bond is karmas w. you can target anything apart from yourself or turrets (it bugs with teemos shrooms though, and maybe with cookies as well), and it will speed up yourself and targeted allies and slow down any targeted enemies, creating a bond between you and your target. anything hostile passing through that bond will be slowed down by the same amount and take dmg, and anything friendly will get a speed up as well. notice that the target does NOT take any damage, only those passing through the bond. it is your main chasing and kiting tool and will help your allies to get away or back into fight faster. placing the dmg is a bit tricky, but not impossible, but if your target runs away too far, the bond will break. you will not ever use mantra for this, so i even wont explain what it does. well ok, just for informal matters: it doubles the speed/slow. you might want to use it when going back to your lane. but never ever waste a stack in a team fight, you only got 2 of them and its all teemos fault.

now my absolute darling amongst her skills. the e, shoul shield, is just what will make you not die but kill, will everyone get away with 10 hp, and abolutely enrage the enemy team in any way you can think of. it also helps with first blood, as noone expects that dmg. it is a shield, scaling nicely with ap, and you can put it on anything friendly apart from turrets. when you add a mantra, it does an awesome aoe around the target. this was just made for putting it on someone that is in the middle of a group fight or losing a 1vs1 (tipp: use flash to get there instantly), and people will (unluckily :&lt soon stop chasing you with that (hope that they dont find out that you dont deal any dmg with it without mantra). the cd is quite low as well. you can play rather aggressive with it while you have your mantra stacks, especially at low lvl, using flash a lot and w for speed/slow, but remember your not super man. nor teemo.

karmas passive is quite nice, it gives you more ap when you get low in hp. one of the reasons for me to take deathcap - it increases the ap by another 30%, giving you quite a lot. if your near death, better use the shield, not the heal. the shield is better anyway, and ppl normally wont stop chasing you :3 dont run through shrooms btw. if you do, shield yourself.

for skill order, i start off with heavenly wave (q), soul shield (e) at lvl 2 and spirit bond (w) at 3, then following e>q>w. yes, no r, thats right. you got mantra, remember.

your play style will be caster-ly early game, and supporting mid and late game. you will always have about as much life as most tanks (more than teemo for sure), and you got def masteries, taking 5% less dmg anyway. you are well able to take mid or solo a lane, but laning with someone, expecially some dmging squishy (like teemo), will make you way more effective. when they go in, give them a mantra-shield, but leave the last hits to the carries if possible. you are not that item reliant after all. you can easily get first blood (or help your lane mate getting it..) at about lvl 2, better at lvl 4. still, play safe, you dont wanna die. you might find that you run out of mana till about lvl 5/6 when spamming skills, so take care. always try to safe mantra stacks - only use shield+mantra for farming when you are DEFINITELY sure that there will be no gank within about the next 40 seconds. if so, it is awesome for farming - you can very early one-hit creep waves with q + mantra-e. nice for some jungling as well.
later, you will stay more behind in team fights, shielding whoever needs it most, taking care that everyone on low life gets away with a speed buff from w, a shield and maybe some heal. i prefer to use mantra on the shield, as said earlier, but if you need to do something quickly, use the heal, as shield has some cd. toss in q with dmg whenever you feel like. this, together with the mantra shield, will do a fair amount of aoe dmg, helping a lot in team fights. of course, try to target theit squishies, but remember that your a supporter, so saving > killing (well, penta kill > saving teemo, but you get the point). you will find that being less greedy does help a lot, because other ppl are greedy enough - foes running after wounded allies (they wont get them if your near), or allies running after wounded foes (they will get them if your near).

so, that should be some introduction of how you might build and play karma. hope it helped, feel free to ask any questions. i might add some numbers concerning skill ratios/cd etc later.

tl;dr: get life, ap and cdr, and skill e>w>q. dont die. kill teemo.

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Senior Member


So ive been reading this. I think i might try 9/21/0 as she could do with the extra health etc. Your summoner abilities im not sure on, but thats just my taste. I think i would prefer exhaust to ignite, but may try both. Usually play malphite with exhaust/ignite combo.

Why so late with roa? surely its only worthwhile getting it that late if you are playing a 40-50 min game? The elo i am at is more like 30-35 min games usually. Secondly i havent tried ionian boots and they seem like a good idea. However usually when i die its because of heavy CC. The shield can help me survive the damage usually but the merc treads getting me out of the cc is what saves me. With her skills being quite low range and having to get in close surely merc treads are better for her?

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Senior Member


getting cdr boots seems a little silly considering how easy cdr is to get. between masteries, runes, blue buff, and the huge amt of cdr on items, u shouldnt need it. get sorc or merc boots instead.

getting roa that late is silly. get it first, then get spirit visage.

id probably get hourglass instead of deathcap. she needs the survivability.
u need some MR/MPen as well. maybe an abyssal

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well, as mentioned, i would not pick exhaust, as she already has a nice slow, and a shield, reducing incoming dmg anyway. i often take ignite as few other ppl take it (though i really dont get why), so if there are 2-3 ignites, just go for some support abiity. i came to like clarity during the last few games, as you can spam so much more skills ^^ but as you said, summoner skills yre mainly a question of personal likings. i wouldnt ever give up flash tho.

well, they buffed roa, so it will be fully stacked after 10 min. i usually finish it within 23-26 min (assuming im not fed, if so, its earlier), meaning itll be finished at about 35 min.
why not get it earlier? well, what would you leave out? i actually thought about this, and it is the reason why i dont upgrade kindlegem earlier. leave out kindlegem? well, its just 850g, and gives you much needed cdr, and some live, which you would get from roa as well. well, dont leave out boots, thats obvious. start with cataclyst? yea, you could maybe do that, i tried, but dorans ring seems to me to be just the right mixture that lets you stay in the lane much longer than anything else. i usually dont go back before i can buy boots + ruby crystal (1375g).
so.. why get it at all then? even if the stacks arent full, its a really nice item. look at its basic stats, and at the final stats, it does get about 30% better. it is better than eg crystal sceptre after 3 min in health matters, and gets as good in ap matters, and you kinda dont need that slow, but the additional mana is nice, and cataclysts effect still helps at lvl 12 ^^ or whatever. you could switch it for sceptre tho, i guess, after all.

well, cc boots.. this is the hard part about karma. the overall most important thing is placement, similar to twitch maybe. my build makes you nearly invulnerable to all aoe, as you have enough life (this is why i build so much life), and lets you stay so much longer in a lane or a team fight. you even survive some burst. so, how about cc? the idea is to not get urself cc'ed. one thing that helps is not to get a soul stealer thats why i dont include that in my build, tho i would prolly get it fully stacked most of the time, just due to many assists and not dying. but ppl will definitely start focusing you, or at least think differently about your role in the party, if you have a soul stealer. well, then, as with any champion, you should know other heroes skills and especially their range and cd. veigar can only stun once in a team fight, sion will maybe stun 2-3 times, kassadin can silence all the time, etc. you get the point. in a team fight, just stay back so much you dont get any cc in the first place. sounds funny, but it actually works. you got maybe shorter range than lux or cassiopeia (who doesnt), but still your place is not in the middle of a team fight. place your shield+mantra not on yourself, but on another hero or even a creep, and you have some preety nice ranged aoe. use ur q just on its edge. w has a nice range for itself. what you really shine at is not aoe-ing during the fight, but making ppl get away, or keeping them from dying at all. when you dont go in first, most cc will usually be on cd for at least some seconds, hard cc (long stuns, long taunt etc) has usually more cd. if you try to follow that, you will get no more cc than maybe some aoe, which usually isnt too long. and after all, cc boots only reduce it by 35%, dont remove it at all - so, if you find you get too much cced, get cleanse (skill it, its in the defense tree), or a quicksilver sash after boots eg.

hope this helped.

at larkhill: well, what you suggest is a caster build. im playing a supporter. think about that, and your comment will be as "silly" as you call my proposed build. how about not just reading the item build only, but the tactics as well? your items dont fit that AT ALL. eg, you dont need sorc boots, as you do nuff dmg, and your not there to do dmg at all. if you dont like that, play annie. you dont need cc boots, as you dont get cc'ed that much, if you do it right. so why not get cdr boots? it means you dont need an extra item (yea, there are enough... eg the boots! why not get them, as you need boots anyway, and there are no other boots, that you really need) btw, ive seen many karma trying your way, and they all failed hard, going as far as ppl queue-dodging karma (even in ranked), tho i havent lost any game with her but one with two leavers on our team (ive played quite some until now).
and after all.. its a guide, not a rule. this is the way i play her, and i works quite well. its not only about the items, so stop focusing on them -.-

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A Vitriolic Cat

Senior Member


So, I'm not pro or anything, but here's a few things I've noticed that you might want to mention in your build:

W's cooldown/mana cost isn't so bad, so if you use it on your tank at the start of a team fight they can do some damage to the opposing team (I like to ask my tank to take an extra second to run past the people he's taunting/targetting, as they get hit by the spirit bond, and the speed buff makes it not even take any extra time for him.) When you're running from a group, you can spirit bond one of the enemy team members chasing you and start to zig-zag in the lane - this creates a moving damage/slow that the rest of their teammates can't run through. It's especially good if you take Ghost (like I said below), as then you can keep the spirit bond nice and long (and scary). It's saved me when people pop Ghost/etc to try and chase me and run straight into my spirit bond.

I personally take Ghost on Karma, because it's easier to control her Spirit Bond and keep it from breaking early, but I think that may just be a preference thing - it seems like you don't focus as much on Spirit Bond so maybe it's just not something you see/notice. Also it's nice because she can't pop her W unless there's an opponent/teammate nearby.

I agree with your item build for the most part, but I really feel like an early game Catalyst is really nice for Karma because you can take advantage of her passive in the lane, and then level up and have more HP. Imo it lets you stay in your lane longer as your E is better until you level and get some HP back.

But it's nice to see a guide for Karma! I was waiting with baited breath for SOMETHING to pop up about her, and it's nice to finally see something.