Soraka Build Guide
A support Soraka for soloqueuewritten by Dithnir
Table of Contents
|Masteries + Runes||3|
|Summoner Abilities - with notes on Clairvoyance and warding early game||4|
UPDATE 20.09.11 - lots to consider....
Support Soraka's had a major change insofar as the sustain meta has.
In order to make the game less boring to watch in the lane phase (because it is the esports side of it that they're addressing with this) they've nerfed all heal skills on all associated champs and beefed up their offensive capabilities.
Her heal has doubled it's raw cooldown with it's AP ratio halved!
The goal of this change was to get Soraka and other supports more into the action. Thus the cooldown of Infuse is shortened and Starcall got buffed.
Which suggests she's meant to use it.
There's still a problem though. She's still quite squishy and the Starcall range isn't good enough for her to harrass...come on, you're telling me that with you and Ashe in the bottom lane against an Alistar and Caitlyn you want Soraka to be in range of both?
Not to mention that her Starcall hits minions, so unless you're farming anyway it will push lane and deny your carry the last hits for them to build fearsome items.
The meta is also pretty much unchanged. Unless you don't take Soraka at all, what is more important, a fully farmed Caitlyn and a no farm Soraka or a half farmed Caitlyn and a half farmed Soraka?
Quite apart from the indiscriminate lane pushing that Starcall spamming will force, leaving you open to ganks from the river and the enemy jungler and others, a fully farmed Caitlyn is much better than a half farmed Caitlyn and a few more Soraka heals.
You're still therefore a babysitter in lane.
Now late game you apparently would have Starcall give you a teamwide magic resist debuff if you can get a few ticks of it off. This is nice. But, you've been warding and oracles rather a lot in soloqueue because your team generally won't until you get into ranked games and a decent elo.
It's now imperative your team really do help you with some warding because you have to be canny about wards and your use of Clairvoyance. You need to get gold enough to get some tanky items so you can roam in and out of the hot zone around a team fight to not only silence but get the odd starcall off to help your AP carries do more damage. But you can't really put yourself at risk because you are always a strong target for the enemy due to being someone that can mitigate damage strongly, usually with an Oracle over your head, a large glowing bullseye waste of money if they can get you :)
The changes to the below guide attempt to respect both the Soraka changes and the fabulous Xpecial guide to supports on the Solomid website which I strongly urge you to check out. Some of the below advice comes from Xpecial, so this is to give him credit directly.
You masochist! Soraka? soloqueue? My god man, instalock a carry and forget you ever met her, ok?
"No, I'm going to heal them and give them mana and they're GOING to like it!"
Fine. Don't say I didn't warn you.
So what is this guide for?
You're a support and you're in soloqueue. Good luck.
* Nobody else will ward, you should.
* Most of the time you won't have much gold so you're looking for gold per 10 items, CDR and a bit of resistance to damage.
Consecration What's not to like. Extra Magic Resistance always helps. It's not much lategame, but there are worse passives :) Starcall AP Soraka types, those in solo lanes, would level this as a good farming tool that can be spammed and used to really hurt any oppo sticking around in your vicinity.
Support Soraka types should probably get at least one level of this before level 6 in soloqueue because if your tower is pushed hard at any point due to strong oppo you can quickly melt it away and push that line from under the tower, leaving any diving champs exposed.
Astral Blessing It's why you've been invited (or, why these 4 people have locked rather than queue dodged). Don't forget, there is a massive 125 armour for 4 seconds buff it gives at level 5 of the spell. That's about 3 Chain Vest!!!! It's a good reason to ensure you're in a lane against AD champs for this reason, which usually happens when people try to parrot the meta with their AD carry plus support lane. Infuse Don't cast this on yourself anymore, unless nobody else is around, you won't get double mana.
Some mana regen on Soraka is highly recommended because it means you can use this a bit more to silence the oppo, plus it means overall better spamming capability, especially with the new reduced cooldown. This will NOT give enough mana on its own to sustain an active Soraka in the mid to late game, especially if you see occasions where a Silence on the oppo is of greater value than a bit of mana, which is usually always in teamfights.
You'll get to learn when to Silence as you play Soraka, but the silence has a great duration, effectively shutting down AP carries and anyone else with a gap closer or cc who might be trying to shut down an ally. If your ally is fleeing it is hugely important to silence whichever of the oppo chasing them has the best chance of reaching them/killing them through the use of their spells, e.g. if it's Alistar and his barge, Leona or Jarvan with their 'spears' that allow them to blink or others that can hit from their current range or close it instantly.
Try not to die, but don't be afraid to die in place of that carry if your silence saved your carry's life. If that carry is on a killstreak you just denied the oppo hundreds of gold :)
Wish Sorry Karthus. No, seriously, it hurts doesn't it, a no skill global ult delivered right back at ya! ;) Except of course, any good Soraka and Karthus are only good at using this ult in soloqueue because they are constantly pinging round the map to check the whole fight.
It's a good habit to get into it, but it's not easy without team comms. If like me, you're an old man without those hardcore reflexes, make sure at the least you're healing low life lanemates rather than going for the assists with it. If you have a Karthus in oppo, just wait till his red whirly tornadoes appear over your heads, then drop that heal for maximum smiles.
If you don't have obvious occasions to use this, you should always be pinging around the map to check on teammates when you see their icons and the oppo's engaging, i.e. chasing or being chased. A quick ping on that part of the map (take a few steps back out of the way of where your lane is to be safe) should show whether it's a rolling poke and your teammate(s) are fine health wise in relation to the oppo or whether a top up is required to keep them going.
If you aren't on voice it's hard to know when you can use this to proc an Assist on team mates that are imminently getting a kill, but if things are going well by all means ping a gank as it kicks off and time a Wish to get an assist. If you can do this, then the Mejai's Soulstealer is a good item to get.
Masteries + Runes
You can find the full tree here.
This gives a small buff to AP and CDR in the offensive line, and the usual in the Utility line. With the below CDR runes, you start with 9% CDR, which means with those boots you're at 24% CDR quite early on, a massive boost to the amount of mana and therefore healing you can dish out.
Quints: Greater Quintessence of Avarice x 3
Taking these plus the Greed mastery means you've almost got a gold per 10 item at level 1. It also means I have the flexibility to stack one less Gold/10 item in favour of something more useful.
Marks: Greater Mark of Resilience x 9 or Greater Mark of Desolation
Two choices here, one armour, one damage.
Armour is useful against the AD carry you're likely to face if you go draft pick and they follow the standard meta, but it's useful anyway against the prodding of the minions if you do engage with the oppo near them.
Armour pen runes are useful because Soraka can hurl her banana a good distance as auto attack and this adds a bit of bite to your auto attacks if you're able to be more aggressive and get a few of them off.
Seals: Greater Seal of Clarity x 9
Why not armour runes here and Resist Marks? Well, in soloqueue the quality of your carry varies and you won't know this at the outset. You have to allow for needing to spam a bit more than you might otherwise with a good carry. So I shifted the armour to reds and used the yellows for the strong regen/level runes.
Glyphs: Greater Glyph of Force x 9
AP is important now on Soraka given the nerf to your ratios. You can't ignore the nerf, you have to counter it.
Summoner Abilities - with notes on Clairvoyance and warding early game
Ghost + Clairvoyance
Clairvoyance is the default choice on any support. You're expected to drop CV to check the Baron, Dragon, jungle buffs and any oppo movements, such as their jungler on his route or a potential gank if they're missing.
I have been using Ghost lately but Flash is also a good choice. I'm taking Ghost because many times I use my flash when away from the towers and they just catch me back up because Soraka is slow. If you can get the Ghost off at all then you have 5 more seconds of running back towards safety without getting caught. Both have their uses, but as you'll never be offensively positioning, Ghost wins out for me at the moment.
Using Clairvoyance and Wards
Use Clairvoyance about 5 seconds after you appear on the map, over the oppo's base. This will give your teammates an early look at the items the oppo are taking, which may be of some benefit to know, equally if they are all dashing off from the base then they're clearly planning something nefarious in the jungle.
All the following assumes you're Purple, coming from the top of the map as seen below. Place your next cv as soon as it's up where the circle is. You should have 3 wards on you as well (see item list below).
It is normally the case that if the enemy plan to invade your jungle to get your blue and put your jungler off his route, or they simply wish to invade, the red arrow shows the most likely route. They would be sitting in that brush you cv'd next to or moving through it to position around your blue.
If your CV shows it's clear then dash across the river and put a ward on the ramp into their jungle near mid.
Now you'll see if they plan to invade at all, and if they don't they're either sat in lanes or are defending their jungle blue to support their jungler.
Your third CV should go to where you think the enemy jungler will most likely be. If they haven't invaded then drop it on their blue. Their jungler, if there, will still be there when you CV. Now you have some idea of where to drop the next one, probably somewhere near wolves and mid lane as their jungler moves across to the wraiths.
The second ward you should place at the bottom 'W' on the map early if they have a jungler. Some junglers might gank at level 2 or 3. If you don't place it immediately as you attempt to get into lane then you need to place it without being seen to do so. This may mean that you have to go back around past your blue and into the river that way, but CV that spot before dropping the ward in the brush there unless you can see all the oppo.
Now, for the first few minutes of the game the enemy cannot make a move into your jungle or towards bottom without you knowing about it. You have automatically covered dragon as you've covered the only two paths in.
Also, enemy junglers usually go for the Red buff at about level 3 or 4, and they're levelling about the same as a duo lane on a smooth run. Use that as a guide to their level. Some blue pill before the red buff, such as Amumu, then grab it and head for gank, or others can do it as part of their main run, such as Fiddlesticks.
I don't know the junglers well enough to track their routes and preferences, some also mix it up anyway, so I apologise for not being that pro just yet :(
If you dropped your ward at the bottom 'W' on the above map a little after the first you will still have some visibility on that route into the river.
When you see a lone team mate and very few of the oppo, drop a CV nearby where they could be ganked. This helps your lone team mate know whether they're safe to continue pushing their lane or get out of dodge.
When you want to place a ward somewhere and the oppo are missing, cv the spot nearby so that you can place that ward safely before moving away.
Press and hold TAB frequently during the early phase to see what the enemy are packing, especially if you see their support blue pill. If they are buying wards, particularly a Vision Ward, you know they're going to drop one in the same brush or right on the dragon to get visibility mid river and the ramp coming out of your blue. They're trying to catch your green ward they expect to see there. This is why you place your ward in the brush. You can of course use your own Vision Ward afterwards, destroy theirs and feel good, especially as they'll see you do it.
If you see that their top lane or mid have wards then you can type into chat that your team must assume they have riverbrushes or top brushes warded.
You can normally tell this if your jungler or mid comes to top or bottom and you see them amble back and stay there...they can see you!
They've got an Akali! And this being soloqueue you have no idea how good your team mates are :( In this scenario as Soraka you could take the Faerie Charm, one Vision Ward, one Sight Ward and some pots.
Drop that Vision ward in the lane with Akali in, near the middle, or slightly to your side. It's better if she doesn't see that, but it isn't the end of the world if she does but can't kill it quickly, because then she'll know that her tricks just aren't going to work for a while and you can afford to be more aggressive. This might mean you have to run to top lane and then back to bottom. DO IT.
You might get laughed at by your team, but once Akali goes into her smoke and they beat on her and kill her they'll be glad.
From then on though, they should refresh that ward themselves, you lost some time leeching xp and you need to stay close in levels to your team to build up the mana and heal support.
It's hard to know when you should get one of these as it does really depend on how the game is going.
If you know they're buying wards and your lane partner is comfortable, lane is perhaps pushed or you've just got a kill or two and there's a bit of a lull in the action, get an Oracle and head out to the river to clear out any in the brush there. Start in the bottom of the river near the lane you're meant to be looking after unless top is really harrassed. If so, head there, help them out a bit, then on your way back south cv ahead of you and go into that brush to clear any wards out. Otherwise just clear out the bottom river, after a cv, so you can return to lane.
A note about playing Soraka if you're new to her
Support Soraka's core is that she heals allies. Sure she can damage some, and silence some, but really, she's about heals.
You need mana to do this, which is why I always recommend taking Infuse and Astral Blessing first, maxing out the former over the latter.
Normally you wouldn't select your first skill till you know if a gank is going to happen or not around one of the blue buffs. Taking Infuse early gives you a chance to silence a carry in a level one gank, which could be more effective than a heal. Up to you, I've not participated in enough level 1 team ganks to know definitively one way or the other. Advice welcome!
The important thing is to remind your team on the starting grid that early doors your heals won't do much more than nudging their health bar along, you won't be rescuing them from taking on 2 oppo carries in the lane.
This is soloqueue. Help them understand.
As a support you should be doing what you can to help your more item dependent team mates get their last hits and stay in lane for as long as possible. They need to level and farm strongly to get the items that will help them carry the win.
In ranked games this is very much the case. The current 'meta' on Summoner's Rift requires Soraka accompanies an AD carry while they farm creeps for last hits to get the gold they need to get great items. You have taken gold per 10 quints and mastery to offset your lack of farm but allow you to get one or two items yourself along with the wards you need.
Soraka, out of all the supports, benefits greatly from some AP, so by taking the quints I stand a better chance of getting at least one decent AP item which will make a real difference in lane sustain or pushing.
If you want an 'AP Soraka' then this isn't the guide for you. This guide offers you one perspective on how to build Soraka solidly for soloqueue supporting.
Go mad once in a while though, cut loose with one of the other builds, life's too short to be unilaterally altruistic :)
/ x 2 / x 3
Get these out of the gate. The charm is a core item for Philosopher's Stone while the sight wards are important for your early lane. See the above section on how to utilise these starting wards.
You would have one ward left if you placed the others as shown on the above map.
Give it a minute or two to understand how the flow of the lane might go. If you have someone like Taric, Alistar or a non traditional support like Fiddle, Lux or Zilean then they'll be looking to sit there and zone you out aggressively.
Drop your third ward straight away into your side of the endlane brush. Otherwise, just wait until you see how the lane pans out.
If you're pushing your lane aggressively, perhaps they have an afk or disconnect or your carry is not listening to you beg them to just last hit, then save the ward for the river when the second ward you placed runs out. That's where the hurt is coming from, not your side brush. If you're in your own half of the bottom lane then pop it in your brush so if they do push, they can't zone you back to the tower.
Xpecial (TSM team pro support) recommends a Soraka start of x 5 and x 2.
This allows you to refresh the wards in the positions mentioned without leaving lane and giving you much longer visibility into bottom river, with the mana pots there to counter you not getting the Charm. Try it, I haven't because I'm not sure that soloqueue at my elo is the same as it is at 2.2k elo :)
Early game build
Health and mana regen means you can focus your attention on the oppo and your ally rather than yourself, while you need the gold per 10 buff to boost your gold given you won't be last hitting creeps that your ally can otherwise take....by all means take last hits if your ally won't get them.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
Cooldowns on your heal have been nerfed. You have to counter it.
Heart of Gold
Extra health and more gold per 10 is very useful. You could take Kage's Lucky Pick for more AP and gold per 10 but I think it's better to be able to take a bit of stray damage if you get caught out in your lane.
With these two items and your quints and mastery you're running 14 gold per 10, on top of your natural gold accrual rate.
If your lane is not going well, or you are against champions that have strong poke, you should consider holding off on finishing that stone and get a Doran's Ring. It gives even more regen for spamming, more health of course and the AP for a slight boost to heals. This, perhaps even two of them, plus your Heart of Gold will give you a lot of health early on to cope with their damage and plant some starcalls to hold the minions and oppo off your tower till the cavalry arrive.
You should buy most of the wards. I would recommend buying a vision ward in the early to mid game if the oppo look like they're trying to farm the dragon when it's up, i.e. they have a clue.
It's likely they'll have it warded for that very reason, so a Vision Ward will reveal that.
After level 13 or 14 you should put Vision Wards in the Baron, ideally just behind him to make it hard to target, or even notice.
Otherwise you should always target brush near river ramps.
Your core ends here. With Soraka it really is all down to who you're playing with and against, as well as how the game is going, so the next items depend on the game.
Beyond the core
[item=Morello's Evil Tome]
If you're not getting seriously harrassed by good players and therefore not dying, you should build this item next. It's got big CDR to greatly improve your heal and mana output, more regen to really help you spam heals and keep your team going and more AP for bigger heals. This is a really strong item in a limited gold build.
Needlessly Large Rod
If it's going really well this will make a big difference to your heals. Don't ignore wards!
Your Philosopher's Stone upgrades to Shurelya's. It gives CDR, health and regen, so if you've got no CDR items and you need something tankier than [item_text=Morello's Evil Tome] then go for this.
The Active is really useful, 3 seconds of +40% move speed every minute, AOE! This can help your team a great deal and perhaps save lives or help them to catch up and take lives.
I found it useful to map the Active to my third mousebutton via the mouse software (if yours allows it). It helps my feeble mind and arthritic fingers not to have to move them rapidly back and fore from the default keys :)
Aegis of the Legion
Another very solid item on Soraka. Health for you and damage mitigation for you and your allies, the aura range is really quite large so don't worry.
You'd get this item sooner if your team are struggling.
The other way of thinking about a tough game is just to really boost your heals. As long as you've got the CDR and the regen this can really make the oppo rage. Of course, if you built the Rod earlier, this isn't such a big gold jump to acquire.
If you have voice, or are otherwise adept at checking the map frequently and anticipating successful ganks before you're fully wandering with your team, then getting this item will mean free and easy stacks by casting 'Wish' just as your team kill the oppo.
I tend to not get it as I never know when I end up dying and would rather the guaranteed AP of another item like the Rod. However, Soraka is one of the few characters that can be very effective well beyond the range of almost all the oppo. It's only if you're zoning close enough to make use of your Silence that you might be at risk of losing stacks...see how it goes.
/ [item_icon=Stark's Fervor] / [item_icon=Soul Shroud]
Your team makeup will tell you which of the above might make a useful aura item. The first gives you more AP which is nice, the second is going to boost health regen and attack speed, so of great benefit to those types on your team while the Shroud gives you more survivability and your team more regen spammability and extra cooldowns. Of course, you'd be over the CDR cap yourself, but it could make a great difference to the damage and cc output of your team.
So, I've identified a ridiculously low cost core to aim for every game, along with upgrade paths and the rationale for them. Get some AP, a lot of wards and some oracles, then build some survivability/aura items to boost your team's outputs and stay alive while doing so. Good luck!
Submitted by Dithnir
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