Karma Build Guide

First I'm a carry, then I'm a support! (Edited to include new Masteries/Summoners)

Updated 5 years ago
  • 9
    Greater Mark of Magic Penetration (+0.87 magic penetration)
  • 9
    Greater Seal of Armor (+1 armor)
  • 9
    Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction (-0.83% cooldowns)
  • 3
    Greater Quintessence of Ability Power (+4.95 ability power)
Skill Order
1 1 1 1
2 2 2 2
3 3 3 3
4 4 4 4
5 5 5 5
6 6 6 6
7 7 7 7
8 8 8 8
9 9 9 9
10 10 10 10
11 11 11 11
12 12 12 12
13 13 13 13
14 14 14 14
15 15 15 15
16 16 16 16
17 17 17 17
18 18 18 18

So I wrote this guide after enduring/seeing others endure the massive hatred that Karma has from a lot of the LoL community. If you don't read the forums, the view of Karma is that she is a lackluster support because she requires a ton of farm to really be effective. I agree with part of that - Karma does require a ton more cs than, say, Alistar or Janna, but she is by no means a bad support because of that - you just have to play her right. This guide was also written primarily with soloq in mind as a well-coordinated team can shut you down if you're not playing on top of your game. Also, Karma has very high AP ratios that make her actually quite bursty. Let's take a look at the damage outputs of 2 of some of the other more popular bursty AP carries [imgsmall=champ/annie.png] and [imgsmall=champ/brand.png]. If you look at Brand's abilities [imgsmall=skills/brand/w.png] and [imgsmall=skills/brand/e.png] they have the following base damages and AP ratios at max level: 255 + 60% AP for Pillar of Flame (+25% extra damage if aflame) 210 + 55% AP for Conflagration So, with 2 abilities (assuming you hit with Conflagration first) and, say, 200 AP Brand will be dealing effectively [highlight]789 [/highlight]before reductions. Annie's abilities [imgsmall=skills/annie/q.png] and [imgsmall=skills/annie/w.png] have the following base damage and AP ratios at max level: 345 + 70% AP for Disintegrate 280 + 75% AP for Incinerate This means Annie is dealing [highlight]915 [/highlight]damage before reductions from those two abilities with 200 AP. Karma's abilities [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png] and [imgsmall=skills/karma/q.png] have the following damage and AP ratios at max level (assume mantra is used on both): 230 + 80% AP for Soul Shield 230 + 60% AP for Heavenly Wave So, with 2 (again, mantra'd and 200 AP) abilities Karma will deal [highlight]740 [/highlight]damage before reductions. Though this is only a little less than Brand and significantly less than Annie, remember that Karma is ALSO getting a 5 second 400 strength shield and healing herself for 135 + ~5% of her missing health. So, let's set up a hypothetical fight where Brand and Annie face off 1v1 against Karma. All champs have 1000 HP, 200 AP, 0 MR and no Spell Pen. Karma would deal the [highlight]740 [/highlight]damage to either, leaving them at [highlight]260 [/highlight]HP, but because of her shield and healing she would remain with approximately [highlight]646 [/highlight]health against Annie or [highlight]765 [/highlight]against Brand (plus further damage over time from his passive). Of course, right now you're probably thinking that, "this is all well and good but Annie and Brand still have [imgsmall=skills/annie/r.png], [imgsmall=skills/brand/q.png], and [imgsmall=skills/brand/r.png] to use." This is true, I am not making the argument that overall Karma is a better than Annie or Brand at burst damage, I simply used this example to show that Karma has a kit that can BOTH deal comparable burst damage as the "real" AP carries and provide damage mitigation and healing. This will be most apparent early game in your "carry phase", but I will get into that. So, if you use my guide you will play Karma in a way that makes her a squishy-gibbing champ early-middle game and a very powerful support that can actually get right into the thick of things late game. Enjoy! To summarize in advanced these are Karma's pro's and con's: Pro: [.]Great early-game damage [.]Amazing lane-sustain and damage-negation [.]Mid game will carry hard [.]Late game will make your true carries CARRY HARDER [.]Never has to leave a lane when she has blue buff on Con: [.]VERY mana dependent [.]Once your cooldowns are blown, gg [.]Escape mechanism is situational, more useful for initiating/chasing than escaping most of the time [.]Enemies can tell when your mantra stacks are up/When they are not you are almost like half a champion [.]Your hunger for blue buff will be a constant battle with your true AP carry

So, the standard mentality of support champions under the current meta is to go duo bot with a ranged AD DON'T DO THAT! Ideally, Karma is going to go SOLO TOP. "But CrAzY MoFo 13," you might say, "Solo top will probably have a Jarvan IV, or a Cho'Gath, I can't possibly face that kind of tankiness, right?" WRONG. Karma is a perfect champ to 1v1 a tankydps and this is why: 1. Most tankydps champs are melee [.]Your mantra charged shield not only does a lot of damage starting at level 1, it can also be used to deny last hits very well early game. I suggest using it whenever the enemy goes up to hit a minion. 2. Most tankydps champs are very weak level 1/require a lot of farm early on [.]Since you do almost negligible damage from your autoattacks, those flat armour runes on that J4 aren't going to do shit against you [.]Karma's great denying ability/ability to negate harass should put you ahead of most solo top champs, allowing you to get the leg up early game where it is most important. 2. Karma has amazing sustain [.]With a [imgsmall=items/catalyst-the-protector.png] and her mantra'd [imgsmall=skills/karma/q.png] Karma has lane sustain that rival's [imgsmall=champ/chogath.png] or [imgsmall=champ/swain.png]. [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png] can also be used to completely negate nukes once you start getting some AP. 3. Top lane gives Karma the farm she needs, without taking away from another player [.]Since Karma is so good at farming with her combo of [imgsmall=skills/karma/r.png][imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png][imgsmall=skills/karma/q.png] she often has the problem of either stealing farm from a lanemate or pushing the lane too far. With a solo lane you can negate this problem by lasthitting when you need to and saving your combo for if your enemy pushes to close to your tower. Of course this doesn't mean Karma can't lane mid or bot, but this guide is geared towards solo top lane.

This is just an example page, ideal for playing solo top and maximizing on your early game where the standard solo top tankydps will be weakest. Flat cooldown glyphs may not seem all that good but every second that you get your mantra sooner is crucial. As for the armour yellows, since most solo top champions are AD this will give you some starting armour that will allow you to have a more in-your-face attitude. Of course it is a situational page so if you are facing someone like [imgsmall=champ/mordekaiser.png] or [imgsmall=champ/rumble.png] (both of which are very hard to lane against, but I will cover that later) you can swap out the armour yellows for flat MR, health per level, or flat MP5. [imgext=http://i.imgur.com/v2SZ5.jpg]

[title][img=skills/karma/p.png] Passive: Inner Flame[/title] [number]Karma gains increased Ability Power corresponding to her % of missing Health.[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] This is a decent passive. You'll really only be seeing it's use early game where you can get around 80 AP with only a [imgsmall=items/dorans-ring.png]. Also, because you end up dealing more damage the lower you are in health it can allow you to pull off kills that will make the enemy rage. Late game, when you switch to a support role, you won't be getting into the thick of the fight so you'll notice it less. Still useful though. [title][img=skills/karma/q.png] Q: Heavenly Wave[/title] [number]Karma sends forth hidden blades from her fans, dealing 70 / 110 / 150 / 190 / 230 (+60% Ability Power) magic damage to units in a cone in front of her. Mantra Bonus: In addition to dealing damage to enemies, Heavenly Wave will also heal allies in the cone for 35 / 55 / 75 / 95 / 115 / 135 plus 5% (+%) of their missing Health. Cooldown 6 seconds Cost 65 / 75 / 85 / 95 / 105 Mana Range 500[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] Great heal for a couple reasons. First, it's a semi-spammable with 40% CD reduction (3.6 seconds) and it's AOE. However, the real reason why this heal is amazing is that it heals based on missing health. So, if you're fighting with someone who naturally has a lot of health and can stay alive at almost no health (e.g. [imgsmall=champ/irelia.png], [imgsmall=champ/jax.png]) you can heal them for a lot more for relatively little cost (plus damage to whatever enemy they are fighting). To be more specific, healing a Jax with [highlight]3000 [/highlight]max health when he is at [highlight]10%[/highlight] health will heal him for [number]270 [/number]health assuming you had [highlight]0[/highlight] AP (which of course you won't). Compare that to [imgsmall=skills/kayle/w.png] which would heal for [highlight]205[/highlight], [imgsmall=skills/sona/w.png] which would heal for [highlight]175 [/highlight],[imgsmall=skills/taric/q.png] which would heal for [highlight]220[/highlight], or [imgsmall=skills/soraka/w.png] which would heal for [highlight]300[/highlight]. Remember though, [imgsmall=skills/karma/q.png] is AOE. [title][img=skills/karma/w.png] W: Spirit Bond[/title] [number]Karma creates a beam between an ally or enemy for up to 5 seconds. Allied anchors move 10% / 12% / 14% / 16% / 18% faster and enemy anchors are slowed by 10% / 12% / 14 %/ 16% / 18%. The beam deals 80 / 125 / 170 / 215 / 260 (+70% Ability Power) magic damage to enemies and applies the same movement speed adjustment anchors receive to any champion it passes through. The beam breaks if the bonded target is stealthed. Mantra Bonus: Karma strengthens the bond to double the effect of the movement speed modifier. Cooldown 15 / 14 / 13 / 12 / 11 / 10 seconds Cost 65 / 75 / 85 / 95 / 105 Mana Range 800[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] Though this is my least favourite skill in Karma's kit, it is not worthless like most people seem to think. For one, [highlight]260 [/highlight]magic damage + [highlight]70%[/highlight] AP ratio is nothing to sneeze at, it will allow you to take down minion waves running in a straight line pretty easy when you combine it with [imgsmall=skills/karma/q.png] and some autoattacks. More importantly though it will save mantra charges. Beyond this, using a mantra'd Spirit bond can give your ENTIRE TEAM a 36% speed buff which is ridiculously OP for chasing or running away. It can also be used effectively for area denial by placing it between an enemy and a carry behind the group. Bad news is, this skill is very situational. To maximize effectiveness you need either need all your allies to run in a straight line (which is almost impossible at lower-elo soloq) or get your enemies to basically walk into it (which most likely won't happen). You will most likely be using this skill on your tanky or tankydps during a teamfight as they will be the one to dive into the enemy where Spirit Bond can do the most damage. [title][img=skills/karma/e.png] E: Soul Shield[/title] [number]Karma summons a protective shield that absorbs 80 / 120 / 160 / 200 / 240 (+80% Ability Power) damage for 5 seconds. Mantra Bonus: In addition to casting the shield, energy radiates out from the shield dealing 70 / 110 / 150 / 190 / 230 (+80% Ability Power) magic damage to enemy units around her target. Cooldown 10 seconds Cost 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 / 110 mana Range 650[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] A borderline OP ability IMO; Soul Shield can easily turn a losing battle for yourself or an ally into a double kill. The fact that you can get this shield to 500+ strength using no more than [imgsmall=items/rod-of-ages.png], [imgsmall=items/rabadons-deathcap.png] and runes AND deal almost equal levels of damage to ALL NEARBY ENEMIES makes Karma a force to be reckoned with. This is, in my opinion, tied for the best defensive ability in the game (beside [imgsmall=skills/janna/e.png]) because unlike [imgsmall=skills/morgana/e.png] it isn't restricted to only magic damage and unlike [imgsmall=skills/udyr/w.png] or [imgsmall=skills/rumble/w.png] it can be cast on allies. [title][img=skills/karma/r.png] R: Mantra[/title] [number]Karma empowers her next ability with an additional effect. Karma gains a charge every 25 seconds up to 2 charges. The refresh rate is reduced by Cooldown Reduction. Cooldown 30/25/20 seconds at levels 1/7/13[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] This is basically what makes Karma good. Make sure you always have 2 Mantra stacks up BEFORE a teamfight starts and try to keep 1 on the backburner while laning in case you get ganked and need to pop a quick mantra'd [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png]. Also, make sure you have 40% CD reduction if for no other reason than you want those 12 second mantra charges. In general, you should prioritize mantra charges for [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png] unless you or your allies are getting very low on health, when you should save them for [imgsmall=skills/karma/q.png]. Using a mantra'd [imgsmall=skills/karma/w.png] is generally not recommended except in rare situations where you really need a large boost of speed.

You want to get [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png] at level 1 for a variety of reasons. First, it will be very useful for early teamfights in jungle. Secondly, giving a shield to your jungler with a good leash should make it so that pretty much any jungler won't need to pop a pot for Blue buff. Lastly, it will allow you to start denying lasthits at level 1. Level 2 you want to get [imgsmall=skills/karma/q.png] to give you more burst damage and the ability to heal. From here you should level up [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png] a couple more times for the better shield strength and damage (as a rule, mitigating damage is better than healing from damage done). Once you have a couple levels in shield you should prioritize [imgsmall=skills/karma/q.png]. In general, they do equal amounts of damage so prioritizing them equally will give you better overall damage output. Though I said that [imgsmall=skills/karma/w.png] should not be learned until level 7, this is just an example number. Spirit Bond is Karma's highest-damage skill at the beginning of the game and requires no Mantra charges to use correctly. That being said, you should probably put off getting [imgsmall=skills/karma/w.png] as long as possible as it is a situational skill for damage in lane where you don't have the most freedom of movement or speed to quickly go around a wave. However, if you find yourself getting ganked a lot you will probably want to get it early. Rule of thumb, put off learning [imgsmall=skills/karma/w.png] until you absolutely need it to do well. After getting one point in it, do not level up the skill until you have max leveled your [imgsmall=skills/karma/q.png] and [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png].

[title]Starting Items:[/title] [img=items/dorans-ring.png] OR [img=items/sapphire-crystal.png] + [img=items/health-potion2.png] In most cases you're going to want to start with the Doran's Ring. But, if you're going up against an enemy that has a lot of sustain and/or poke you'll want the Blue Crystal + pots to be able to spam your [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png] more before. Also, starting with Blue Crystal and pots will allow you to get your [imgsmall=items/catalyst-the-protector.png] much earlier. So play it by ear. [title]First trip back: [/title] [img=items/catalyst-the-protector.png] + [img=items/boots-of-speed.png] + 1 or 2 [img=items/sight-ward.png] With a Catalyst you don't really have to worry about backing until you can afford your next item, [imgsmall=items/rod-of-ages.png], the boots will give you more mobility in lane and help escape ganks, and you should ALWAYS get a ward for river. Remember, it is YOUR responsibility, NOT YOUR JUNGLER'S to ward the top lane. Place your ward(s) at the following location(s): 1. [imgext=http://i.imgur.com/igiqV.jpg] These locations will give vision like so: 2. [imgext=http://i.imgur.com/Uplau.jpg] 3. [imgext=http://i.imgur.com/oAAHT.jpg] Quick aside, one of the mistakes that I see newer players make is to place the river ward INSIDE the brush. There are a couple reasons why you don't want to do this. Yes, you get vision of anyone hiding in that brush which can allow you to counter-gank but there are 2 downfalls. One is that the chances of successfully counter-ganking 1v2 are pretty low and you can't expect your jungler to always be in a position to help you out (esp in soloq); another is that by placing a ward inside the bush you sacrifice having greater vision of the river. Warding the river is important because you want to have as much time as possible to react when someone comes to gank you - which is why we place it further down in the river (which also gets the ramp to blue sides Great Golem). There are a few champs where it would be useful to ward inside the river brush (i.e. [imgsmall=champ/fiddlesticks.png]) but as a general rule the ward should be placed as seen in picture 2 (about half way between the 2 rocks). [title]Core Items:[/title] [img=items/rod-of-ages.png] [.]The Rod of Ages gives you everything you need. Health because you're naturally squishy, mana because you're spamming your spells a lot, and AP. [img=items/will-of-the-ancients.png] [.]This item is perfect for Karma because it allows you to carry and support at the same time. You can carry because the AP and Spellvamp will allow you to basically heal to full by using a mantra'd [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png] and a mantra'd [imgsmall=skills/karma/q.png] around a large group of enemies (even with the lessened spellvamp from AOE because you're hitting a lot of targets at once) and the bonus AP given to nearby teammates will really help them with absolutely no gold cost on their behalf. [img=items/ionian-boots-of-lucidity.png] [.]These boots plus Blue Buff and runes+masteries is the cheapest way to get to 40% CD reduction. You need this. [title]Offensive Items[/title] [img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png] [.]This will give a big boost to your AP, allowing you to scale your damage/shield/heal into late game at the loss of survivability. [img=items/void-staff.png] [.]If the enemy starts getting MR. Since you aren't getting spell pen boots you may need this more often than you think [title]Defensive Items[/title] [img=items/zhonyas-hourglass.png] [.]Survivability + AP, can't go wrong with the active either. [img=items/banshees-veil.png] [.]Gives you great dueling abilities versus AP carries as you can easily soak up a combo between this and your [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png] [img=items/quicksilver-sash.png] [.]A very underrated item. Relatively cheap and allows you to remove all debuffs from your character. I can't tell you how many times I've baited someone like [imgsmall=champ/malzahar.png] or [imgsmall=champ/kennen.png] into attacking me when they think that I can be easily taken out, only to remove all their debuffs and own them. I pretty much recommend this item on most champs if the enemy team has a lot of CC or debuffs. 'Cept [imgsmall=champ/gangplank.png] 'cause he just eats an orange and is k. [title]Other Items[/title] [img=items/fiendish-codex.png] [.]If you have another champ on your team who needs Blue Buff more than you do ([imgsmall=champ/cassiopeia.png], [imgsmall=champ/anivia.png], [imgsmall=champ/amumu.png], etc.) you should consider getting this item, turning it most cases into a [imgsmall=items/morellos-evil-tome.png] or [imgsmall=items/deathfire-grasp.png] against really tanky teams. [img=items/moonflair-spellblade.png] [.]If you need the tenacity because the other team has a lot of CC. [img=items/sight-ward.png] [.]ALWAYS. GET. WARDS. If you leave the base with more than 75 gold and a free item slot, seriously reevaluate your life and the decisions you've made. And always leave a slot for wards unless you either have another dedicated warder or absolutely need another item.

Even more so than other champions, Karma's early game determines whether you will get facerolled or carry hard in the lategame. Because of this, I've divided the early game (i.e. "the laning phase") into three groups. [title]1. Game Start (~Levels 1 - 6)[/title] Make sure you punish your enemy top lane EVERY time they go for a last hit (don't forget to autoattack them too!); with [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png] tanking a creepwave to get a kill/good damage isn't that big of a deal and won't result in you dying like it may for a champ like [imgsmall=champ/annie.png] or [imgsmall=champ/corki.png]. As I mentioned before, common top-lane champs like [imgsmall=champ/singed.png] or [imgsmall=champ/xinzhao.png] start out relatively weak and snowball the longer they are allowed to farm. Since you start out very strong and doing a lot of damage, this makes you a pretty hard counter to them between levels 1 - 4. Try to farm by only lasthitting minions with your autoattacks, as using your abilities on the lane will push it pretty easily. There are a few champs that you won't be able to do this as effectively to - off the top of my head [imgsmall=champ/rumble.png] and [imgsmall=champ/chogath.png] are examples. Basically, these are champs who from a very early level either have an easy way to mitigate your damage, rely more on abilities to farm rather than auto attacks, and/or can heal back up pretty easily. Against champs like these, harass as much as you can but save your mana/abilities to protecting yourself and farming. These are the kind of champs where starting out with a [imgsmall=items/sapphire-crystal.png] and pots would be a good idea. [title]2. Mid-early Game (~Level 6+)[/title] By now you should have your [imgsmall=items/catalyst-the-protector.png] and if you played right you should have a good cs advantage over your enemy, maybe even some kills. Now you want to focus on trying to postpone the point where that [imgsmall=champ/udyr.png] you're laning against will be able to shrug off most of your harass. Try to reach a balance of harassing the enemy as much as you can farm. Don't be afraid to be more aggressive since your mantra'd [imgsmall=skills/karma/q.png] and [imgsmall=items/catalyst-the-protector.png] procs will give you a very good amount of sustain. [title]3. Late-early Game[/title] By this point your enemy has probably gotten to the point where they can start playing more agressively against you - even if you still have the advantage in gold. You will probably want your jungler to come gank at this point. Once this point comes it is advisable for you to try to destroy the enemy's tower in your lane and move into mid-game where you're strongest.

Mid game Karma is still a carry, but remember that it is often better to use your shield on squishier teammates to keep them alive. Karma can't really "gank" well because of her almost non-existent cc, but she, along with a friendly, can make quick work out of enemy carries. Showing up bot lane to help push the tower can often turn into a tower dive kill as your [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png] should be able to absorb 1 or 2 hits from the outer towers before bursting. If you have an AP[imgsmall=champ/sion.png] for instance, just gg because double shield is super strong. Oh and remember that you can safely poke enemies trying to towerhug by standing just out of tower range using a mantra'd [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png] on your melee minions as they attack the tower. If you have a half-decent jungler on your team you can duo dragon pretty easily too, make sure you do that as dragon is really important. And, as always, make sure you farm as much as you can in order to get more items as your damage will start falling off pretty soon.

Late game is where Karma does a 180. You are now a support, and, if you farmed well and finished a good part of your build, you will be a very good support. This change of role means that you want to change your playstyle accordingly. First rule of playing support is that you stay on your carry/carries. In general you want to save [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png] for the carry if they get dove and [imgsmall=skills/karma/w.png] to help the carry position and manoeuvre well during the fight. Remember to save your mantra charges for when they are needed most. Mantra'd [imgsmall=skills/karma/q.png] will work best at mid to low HP as it heals for missing health, mantra'd [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png] are probably best used on the initiator to do some good damage on as many enemies as possible, and mantra'd [imgsmall=skills/karma/w.png] is best used in special situations where you need to get in or out very fast and can sacrifice having 1 less charge. The same rules regarding dragon also apply to baron when playing Karma. [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png] can tank quite a lot of baron's damage if used a lot on whoever is being focused by him and that, combined with a mantra'd [imgsmall=skills/karma/q.png] or two, can give your team a baron with a good amount of health coming out of the fight. Remember though, now that you're the support you should ward the enemy entrances to baron to try to prevent a steal. Buying an [imgsmall=items/oracles-elixir.png] at this point in the game (if not earlier) is recommended unless you are dying a lot. In short, ward and wardcheck as much as you can. Besides that, just remember that late game Karma can clear minion waves, no matter how large (assuming no superminions are present) with [imgsmall=skills/karma/q.png] and mantra'd [imgsmall=skills/karma/e.png]. This means if your team is in a position to push but your lane is being pushed by a huge wave you will probably be the best choice to clear the opposing wave - assuming no one else on your team desperately needs farm and they don't risk being killed if they push a tower without you. As for wards, there's no point to making another map to show you where to put wards late game as late-game warding is entirely situational. However, here are a few situations that will arise constantly and how you should ward these situations: [.] Always have baron warded and the enemy's approach to baron. Same with dragon. [.] If you have a majority control of the map, ward the enemy's blue and red buffs [.] If the enemy has a majority map control, make sure to ward your own red and blue [.] When splitpushing ward any routes the enemy can take to gank you/any routes you need vision of to escape when they arive [.] If the enemy has an oracles, place the wards in odd locations, using bushes (but not common bushes) whenever you can [.] I the nexus is unprotected and you/a teammate has teleport placing a ward INSIDE the enemy's base could help you backdoor an open nexus but most people won't fall for this cheese

Hey guys, so I hoped you enjoyed my guide on Karma as it took me a long time. I welcome any suggestions/comments to be posted below and I may add some gameplay videos if I get enough time to get some things together. Again, thanks for reading and please upvote if you like the guide - it will definitely encourage me to get the videos up sooner :P

11/18/2011 - Changed Masteries and Summoner Spells to fit new additions to Season 2.

Comments coming soon!
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