Karma Build Guide

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Karma, The Enlightened AP Carry

written by CCBeara

Karma Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

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    Hello, I am RoopdeeRoo and I'm here to present my way of playing Karma, the Enlightened One. I've been playing for about 6 months and have been playing Karma a good amount since she's come out. I've tried out many different ways to play her, and this is my favorite (and my most effective) way to play her.

    The build focuses on straight damage output to make for a very scary mage that can also support like a boss. Once you start melting unsuspecting players in, they'll realize the true power of Karma!

    Note: I do not claim this to be the best way to play her. I do not claim this is the "high-elo pro pro" way to play her. This is just how I like to play Karma.

  • Abilities

    Inner Flame
    Inner Flame
    Karma gains increased Ability Power corresponding to her % of missing Health.

    Inner Flame gives Karma up to 30-130 AP depending on how low Karma's HP is. It not only makes her potentially tankier the lower she gets, but makes her a very good laner, but it scales pretty ridiculously into the late game (130 AP at level 18 and extremely low. With Rabadon's Deathcap, expect that number to be huge).

    "Oh, Yi is going to tower dive me? Mantra + Soul Shield > Mantra + Heavenly Wave."
    -You have slain an enemy-

    -This is extremely good for tower hugging and solo laning as it can increase your heals and shield power.

    [spell=Heavenly Wave]
    Karma sends forth hidden blades from her fans, dealing 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 based on a % of their missing life.

    Heavenly Wave is her Q skill that blasts enemies in a small cone in front of Karma. It is your main damage source. While its AP ratio isn't the most exciting (0.6), it is on a 6 second cooldown without CDR, making it pretty spammable. When using Mantra, this skill also heals people in the cone for a percent of their missing health.

    -This is an excellent harassing tool, but due to its smaller range, it can get you into some really bad situations vs. champions that play aggressively or have a gap closer (e.g. Xin Zhao's charge)
    -Don't heal yourself with it unless you really need it or your shields wouldn't be much use to nuke the enemy laners. Early game, Mantra charges are in incredibly short supply and have more of a use with the her shield.
    -Late game, this ability is great for teamfights (along with the rest of her abilities)
    -Great farming skill

    [spell=Spirit Bond]
    Karma creates a beam between an ally or enemy. Allied anchors move faster and enemy anchors are slowed. The beam deals magic damage to enemies and applies the same movement speed adjustment anchors receive to any champion it passes through.

    Mantra Bonus: Karma strengthens the bond to double the effect of the movement speed modifier.

    Spirit Bond is Karma's W skill that latches onto a target and either speeds up (ally) or slows down (enemy) the target. Along with the initial slow, a tether deals damage and slows/speeds up units caught in it. It's a handy ability that a lot of utility.

    -While it has the highest base damage and a pretty good AP ratio (0.7), it is mainly used for utility.
    -If you get a chance, it can take people tower hugging off guard. For example, I had this Singed relatively low, so I Mantra Charged a Soul Shield and nuked him, followed by a Bond to a minion directly behind him, killing him.
    -It can be used to get back to lanes quicker, but can sometimes be just a waste.

    [spell=Soul Shield]
    Karma summons a protective shield that absorbs incoming damage.

    Mantra Bonus: In addition to casting the shield, energy radiates out from the shield, dealing damage to enemy units around Karma's target.

    Soul Shield is Karma's main nuke and support spell. It creates a damage absorbing shield that can easily save a low HP ally (or yourself). When charged with Mantra, it blasts a giant AoE nuke around the target shielded. It has a medium length cooldown, so spamming it does not work well.

    -It has a very good AP ratio for both the shield and nuke (0.8) and can save yourself while landing a kill.
    -You should generally save your Mantra charges for this as it does a pretty insane amount of damage with a lot of AP.
    -While you cannot target towers like Janna's shield, you can target minions, making this a great harassing tool against melee champions.
    -Combining a Mantra Charged shield with Heavenly Wave can take out a minion wave.

    Karma empowers her next ability to do an additional effect. Mantra is available at level 1 and does not require a skill point.

    Mantra is Karma's "ultimate". Mantra Charges boost the next ability with the noted bonus. It's unique in that you get it at level 1, leaving 6 ranks for each of the above skills.

    -For this build and playstyle, you should save these for your Soul Shield
    -You only get 2 at any given time, so spend them wisely

  • Masteries + Runes

    For Karma, I use a mix of offense and defense to keep her alive through the early game, but still give her an edge.


    External Image

    I go with a standard 9/0/21 mastery setup, focusing on magic penetration, mana regen, and cooldown reduction. I make sure to grab improved Ghost as well. I also get Greed to try to rush my items as quick as possible.

    3x Greater Quintessence of Potency

    I get Potency quintessences for a bit of early game AP (I don't get magic penetration as I have magic penetration marks and having just a bit more AP early game can make your spells do things better, especially Karma's Soul Shield

    9x Greater Mark of Insight

    Magic Penetration really helps your spells hit hard, especially early game. While the AP Quintessence helps with early defense, the penetration helps a lot for early offense.

    9x Greater Seal of Replenishment

    Mana regen. The reasons are obvious on why you'd want these. More spells = more damage and defense. Rarely will she ever be out of mana early game because she'll be able to regen most of it with her Doran's Ring and this regen.

    5x Greater Glyph of Potency
    4x Greater Glyph of Force

    AP is great to have. Early game, this AP will be very helpful for her damage and getaway potential. Granted, she'll have lower HP, but she'll have more effective HP with her heal and shield.

  • Summoner Spells

    Best Choices

    I go with Ignite and Ghost. Ignite allows for easier early game kills and also a good counter to innate healers. Ghost is for good mobility. Due to the short range of her spells, she needs to be sort-of in their face about attacking them. (Also, Ghost + Mantra Charged Spirit Bond + Any other Speed buff = SUPA SPEEEEEE)

    -Note: These are for AP Carry Karma. A support Karma should rarely take these as they aren't the best supportive summoner spells.

    Other Possible Choices
    Heal is okay for AP Carry Karma, but she has a heal. Also, if you play her well, you shouldn't be dying anyways. Heal is better suited for Support Karma.

    Exhaust is better suited for someone who is going to shut someone down, rather than obliterate them. While it can help you get some kills and chase a bit better, it's not optimal in my opinion.

    Same reasoning as Heal. Clarity just fills a spot that could be utilized better for AP Carry Karma.

    Teleport is probably the second most "viable" option for Karma. Even though she can't chase and escape as well without Ghost, Teleport allows for easier laning and for surprise pushes. She rivals Nasus and Sivir in minion obliteration.

    Poor Choices

    Clairvoyance is an incredible spell that has so much utility and is an incredible spell.... for supports.

    To be perfectly honest, if you are getting CC'd to the point of needing Cleanse, you'll probably be dead before you can make use of it.

    It's an iffy spell in general and does not work with Karma that well.

    Flash won't really do you much good. If you are chasing, use [spell_text=Spirit Bond]. If you are escaping, use [spell_text=Soul Shield] with [spell_text=Spirit Bond]. It's a good spell, just not that good for Karma.

  • Items

    With AP Carry Karma, I like to use 3 Core Items.

    Start off with a Doran's Ring for the AP, Mana Regen, and the nice HP. Afterwards, build into these:

    Core Build Example

    This allows for incredible damage output.

    Sorcerer's Shoes
    Good boots. Magic penetration REALLY helps with her burst and allows her to do a lot more damage to stronger enemies.

    -If you have prefer them, Ionian Boots of Lucidity may be the wiser investment.

    Rabadon's Deathcap
    When you get this, it should be pretty easy to rack up kills and assists pretty quickly, allowing for easy carrying. The AP bonus will also make your passive stupid annoying to enemies. Even if your low, your shield can save you in many situations.

    Void Staff
    Always a good item for any caster. Makes your spells hit a lot harder to those pesky Galio-types.

    If You Get Fed...
    Lich Bane
    This item is hilarious. Spammy abilities and an auto-attack that makes people scream. I have been in situations where a low HP burst assassin lost to me being even lower because I Mantra Charged my Soul Shield and killed them with the Lich Bane proc.

    Situational Items

    Deathfire Grasp
    I get this usually for the peskier high HP champs like Cho'Gath or Mundo. It has good stats and a good active. I would like to note that getting [item_text=Kage's Lucky Pick] first is important. The quicker money plus Karma's excellent farming abilities allow her to get way ahead of the pack very fast.

    -Since this is generally better later on in the game, you should get Kage's Lucky Pick before one of the other items if you are a bit low on minion kills early on.
    -You don't always need this. If the enemy team is relatively squishy, you won't need this too much.
    -You can use 1-6 on your keyboard to use this item easier. I will usually put this in my #1 slot to have an easy combo of:

    >+[spell_icon=Soul Shield]>[spell_icon=Heavenly Wave]

    Rod of Ages
    I never used to get this, but lately I see too many benefits to pass up. If you can nab this at a good point, it's an excellent item. The HP is pretty nice too. Your effective health with your heal, shield, and all your HP is just ridiculous.

    Mejai's Soulstealer
    Mejai's is a good item, but should only be bought if you start off relatively well. The earlier you get an assist or kill, you will already be ahead of the pack. Play it carefully and rack up stacks. Suddenly, you are a nuking beast. (The CDR with full stacks is also handy.)

    -GET THIS EARLY ON. If you get it mid-late when you are only a bit fed, it's not very useful. Get it midway through laning phase if you're getting pretty fed.
    -If you start feeling confident with playing Karma, get it even if you start off bad. You can still make a stupidly good comeback.
    -If you are doing bad, or there isn't a whole lot of killing going on, drop Mejai's for another AP item.
    -Another note for emphasis: DO NOT BE AFRAID TO SELL THIS. Don't keep it for a "what-if" situation. If you start doing bad, throw it out, forget it.

    Archangel's Staff
    If you really need some more mana, get this for some quick AP.

    -I'd suggest getting this earlier than later, as it isn't the best choice for AP late game.

    Vs. High Magic Resist Teams

    Haunting Guise
    It's a nice magic penetration item for early game that also gives a bit of HP that could help you early on.

    -Late game, this won't be that much of a help, sell it to make room for a better item if needed

    Vs. High DPS
    Zhonya's Hourglass
    This item is an icing-on-the-cake item. Gives a lot of AP for a decent amount of survivability. Also, that sexy stasis active.

    This is only in extreme cases (e.g. Yi or Tryn fed to oblivion). It can make your life a lot easier.

    Vs. High Burst
    Abyssal Scepter
    An incredible item that also reduces nearby enemy MR. Can be used for both offense and defense.

    -All of Karma's spells are AoE. This item can be a really good ending situational item.

    Banshee's Veil
    Look at that sexy orb of doom for any enemy burst. CAN'T GET ME NOW, CAN YOU AP JERK SION.

    Core Build Result


  • Skill Build

    For Karma, I like to focus on her [spell=Heavenly Wave] and [SPELL=Soul Shield] to maximize damage output and level up [spell=Spirit Bond] last as it is the hardest skill to make effective, and it better used for utility.

    External Image

    -Note: The Karma builder does not currently work, so this is just an image mock-up I made to make the guide more aesthetically pleasing.
    -Note: In a duo lane, maxxing Spirit Bond second can be a better idea.

  • Pros / Cons

    +Great in team fights
    +Secret tankiness with her heal and shield
    +Pretty hefty damage
    +Can be an incredible support at the same time
    +Incredible farming ability
    +Easy to learn, hard to master
    +Great Laner

    -Mediocre early game, needs farm to get going
    -Still pretty squishy
    -Cannot carry as well as some of other champions
    -Average base damage on her skills
    -Easy to learn, hard to master
    -Crowd Control just tears her apart

  • Working in a Team

    Karma can lane in whatever lane she is most needed. She can easily go solo top, solo mid, or duo bot.
    -Note: Soloing as Karma is much harder than duoing with another teammate, but can be even more rewarding

    Solo Mid

    Here's generally where you want to be. What Karma lacks in crazy damage and range, she more than makes up for in lane presence and lane sustainability.

    The focus of Karma in mid lane is to out farm and zone the enemy champion. This can be incredibly easy, or incredibly hard. You'll probably lane versus either a snow bally mage, or a ranged dps that needs the farm. Both can be easy, or hard. Just play smart, and harass when you can.

    Use predictability and champion knowledge to your advantage. For example, laning versus Annie would be relatively easy. Harass when you can before level six, then just bait her harassment hard so you can get your passive high and her mana low. Run at her, force her to target you, use your shield, trololo all the way home.

    Solo Top

    Generally, you'll be in a 1v1 situation top, if so, follow the above instructions.

    If you end up 1v2, then get ready for a fun lane.~
    Surprisingly, Karma can do this extremely well, better than a lot of champions.

    You'll want to play it very safe. Very, very safe.
    Harass when you can, but try to stay near your tower most of the time. After a while, you'll probably have taken a bit of a beating, and so have they. If they get agitated, they make a move to tower dive you.

    Laugh now.

    Mantra Soul Shield and Heavenly Wave them and watch them go "wat." They'll be EXTREMELY low and Ignite should finish them off.

    Just play like you would a solo mid lane, but divided in two.

    -Getting a [item_text=Kage's Lucky Pick] can help if you're getting zoned hard.

    Duo Lane
    Basically, you want to lane with any support or tank with a competent amount of CC.

    Generally, you'll want to play careful, but get off as much harass as possible. Zone them out hard, bait their harass (and heal/shield accordingly) and force them to lose control of the lane. Karma is very good at this. It's pretty self explanatory what to do with Karma in a duo lane.


    How to Play as AP Carry Karma

    Like a lot of carries, early game is where you should want to be careful and just harass with [spell=Heavenly Wave] whenever you get a chance. If you can, block last hits with [spell=Soul Shield] to deny a lot of gold.

    When you get around to level 6, you can properly do a good bursty combo of:

    +[spell_icon=Soul Shield] > [spell_icon=Heavenly Wave] > [spell_icon=Spirit Bond]

    The hardest part of Karma is positioning. If there aren't any viable allies or minions nearby, you have to nuke by shielding yourself. This can get you into HORRIBLE situations. Just know your enemies and react accordingly.

    In teamfights, nuke-shield your tank once he initiates, doing a pretty sizable amount of AoE damage. If used with someone like Galio or Malphite, the shield alone can be devastating. Throughout the battle, spam your Heavenly Wave as much as you can, and just nuke whenever possible.

    Do NOT forget your Spirit Bond! If you can manage to bond with the straggler in the back, you can move around the battle doing damage to all between you two. Remember that it only has 1 tick, so don't keep running around trying to hit everyone like crazy.

  • Summary

    Karma is a great champion who can dish out a surprising amount of damage. She's a fun burst carry that can catch enemies off guard with her defensive burst.

    Thank you for reading my guide, and please leave a comment with feedback~

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  • Change Log

    -Added RoA to situational items

    -Made a lot of tweaks

    -Karma as of v1.0.0.115

    Quoted Text:
    •Fixed a bug where the visual for Heavenly Wave occasionally wouldn't align with the direction cast
    •Mantra Soul Shield now shows an area of effect indicator when your cursor hovers over an ally

    Just some visual tweaks.
    -Added more to working on the team and changed some opinions (solo lane is actually more desired)
    -Removed "Switch if you vs. These" because it stemmed from being not incredibly familiar with counters to the champs. Ashe is still a jerk though.

    -A bit overdue, but I changed my masteries and runes. The mana regen seals were 10x more effective than the HP. The glyphs are better suited for AP.

    -New buffs~!
    Quoted Text:
    •Fixed a bug where the Mantra version of Heavenly Wave was not granting assists for healing allies
    •Spirit Bond's leash range has been increased by a small amount
    •Mantra now scales with level on a 30/25/20 second cooldown at levels 1/7/13 respectively instead of on 25 second cooldown at all levels.

    Nothing really huge. The only thing worth mentioning is her Mantra cooldown is ridiculously good late game now, but worse early game.

    -Changed the core boots from Boots of Lucidty to Sorcerer's Shoes. Magic pen seems to be a much more vital stat than CDR, especially when you'll (probably) get the DFG.

    -Removed Mejai's from core, not reliable enough as an item. Horrible core item.
    -Moved Mejai's in item build
    -Changed Pros/Cons a bit
    -Added a few notes to Mejai's

    -Redid core build with the builder, now shows appropriate information
    -Removed Deathfire Grasp from core items. Wasn't needed very often, better to get other straight damage items

    -New buffs to Karma~!
    Quoted Text:
    •Heavenly Wave base heal increased to 35/55/75/95/115/135 from 30/45/60/75/90/105
    •Spirit Bond cooldown reduced to 15/14/13/12/11/10 from 20/18/16/14/12/10.
    •Soul Shield Increased the shield strength by 10 at all ranks.
    •Mantra cooldown reduced to 25 seconds from 30 seconds.

    Nice buffs, Mantra buff definitely nice. Most are not huge buffs (she was pretty balanced)

    -Changed item order, Rabadon's is better earlier than after DFG
    -Made Void Staff a core item
    -Added a few more notes

    -Added a lot more to the "Working on a Team" section
    -Added a skill build section
    -Tidied up a bit
    -Fixed some typos and other issues

    -Posted the guide

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