August 4: Changed some core ideas of the guide, making Soraka more offensive while trying to maintain an overall defensive stance. Added Sheen and moved Mejai's to later on in the round. Got rank 1 Starfall early.
August 8: Realized Sheen is a little better later on instead of right off the bat.
August 15: Hahahaha, I'm a moron! Also, updated for the recent patch and added a "WATCH OUT" section.
August 16: OH MY GOD ELIXIRS ARE AMAZING. Changed a few aesthetics about the guide to make it look better. Tweaked masteries and stuff to compensate for elixirs being broken.
August someday: Got some great advice from the comments and created a new section: WHEN THE OTHER TEAM IS SMART
1:47 AM-- date unverified: Wrote a Veigar guide and NEEDED to put in a shameless plug.
The average squishy (including Soraka) has 30MGR. This boosts it to 46 which is the difference between 23% reduction to 32% reduction. Your passive gives 10% magic damage reduction to your immediate party-- broken.
With an unlimited target cap, this spell can dish out farming dps to rival non-support classes. In team battles, it can hit invisible targets and the debuff it provides is usually always worth tagging someone with if it isn't potentially worth your life. As well, fifty simultaneous sparkly explosions may cause enough chaos to disorganize the enemy party. Disorganized enemies are dead enemies.
Once you get Lich Bane, you can really start contributing some dps to the party. But do so with caution and with your mind on your REAL purpose.
1:1 AP ratio heal with an armor buff. Unfair beyond reason. Your job is to keep the party moving forward. Making Blessing as efficient as possible helps, but remember that your job goes FAR beyond simple healing. Even after the recent nerf in healing, expect this spell to QUICKLY jump into the 400 to 600 healing range and beyond.
250 damage silence OR unlimited mana-mode for your party. THIS is the real reason Soraka is so often banned in draft-pick. Laning with Ezrael, for instance means Ez will be able to fire off high damage skillshots without ever needing to stop. However, laning with a manaless champ means you can use it to silence and harass. No matter who you lane with, this should ABSOLUTELY be your number one skill.
Global heal. This CAN save a party member from being slaughtered from across the map, but I think that it can sometimes have a better use simply keeping the party full-up when it will provide maximum healing. Use your judgement to decide; if you are doing good, use it when you see at least 3 of your 5 missing some health, if you aren't doing so hot, save it for emergencies when burst-healing is required.
Soraka is a support champion. On that note, don't expect to get many kills with her, but kills WILL happen and people WILL cry about it. Your primary job is to provide a constant flow of health and mana to allied champions. However, a truly great Soraka (that will be banned the next time your opponents join a game) will do the following three things.
First, she will harass and zone her foes out of experience range. Soraka has 550 range. Use that range to harass. If you don't know what Zoning is, please watch this amazing video courteousy of Shurelia.
Second, she will kill as few creeps as possible early on. This build does not require a lot of money. Allow your lane-mate free reign to last hit and earn game-changing gold. If you are trying to push to the tower, you still have to push! Hit full-life creeps and move on after they fall into kill range.
Third, she will have Clarity and Clairvoyance and will use them often. Clairvoyance will render bushes useless in the laning phase and provide unparalleled knowledge of the map to help for team fights, ganks, and buff control. Clarity as well as Infuse and healing spells will keep the party pushing even after tough team fights.
That was a lot to take in at once. Here is the Cliffnotes version:
A well placed improved Clarity will refill your entire party after a tough team battle and along with your healing, you will be able to push a tower and be ready at full life and mana by the time they resurrect. Early game, use Clarity often. Work with Infuse to get to a point where you and your partner are at half mana and then let her rip. Don't worry about over-mana-giving, Clarity does not help you when it is off cooldown and waiting to be used.
Improved and Utility-Mastered Clairvoyance has a 40 second cooldown and a 10 second duration-- that means only 30 seconds of downtime. The uses for this skill are endless, here are a few of my favorites: Use it on the enemy pool at the beginning to check who on the enemy team is heading where so you can better choose appropriate lanes to counter. Use in the laning phase to make the bushes useless to the enemy. Use it to check where that pesky jungling WW is at so someone can gank him. Use it to check dragon and baron. Use it right before a potential team fight so you can really know what you are up against. Use it to check the river-bush when someone calls mia. On a 40 second cooldown, just use it when it is up and you will see what I mean.
Since Soraka is SO MINDBLOWINGLY GOOD, you really have your pick here. This is my personal build for her, but in NO way is it the best. I will tell you why I choose what I choose, but it is a suggestion at best.
Glyphs: Greater Glyph of Clarity. I know you are thinking, "Soraka has Infuse! She doesn't need mana regen!" But think of it this way, the less you have to use Infuse on yourself, the more you can use it to harass or keep your lane-mate at full mana. Many swear by Greater Glyph of Celerity, but this build potentially maxes out CDR without it.
Seals: Greater Seal of Clarity. Combined with the glyphs, you won't have to use Infuse on yourself except for early game... possibly. This means you can use Infuse to keep your party at full mana or even kill/assist. Even if you decide Celerity glyphs, I would definitely say take the Clarity seals.
Quints: Greater Quintessence of Fortitude. Flat HP is universally good. It will help survive early ganks and is just good in general. 3 Greater Fort provide nearly 100 hp. That is an extra 25%. They are outclassed by the per level hit point quints later on, but you shouldn't need hit points later on. This is to protect you early game.
Marks: Honestly, my Soraka just has leftover marks from my other characters. If I really cared, I would either go Greater Mark of Insight or Greater Mark of Force. The problem I have with Force is that at lvl 18 you get less than 20 extra AP. That's marginally laughable. Insight isn't that much better especially since you aren't really supposed to do damage. Like I said, I have leftovers (including a few tier 2 crit chance runes!) on Soraka and they work just fine because she's broken and deserves to be banned.
Yeah, that's it. If you get anything on top of that, it is totally superfluous. In my average game, I make between 5 and 7k, giving most of my potential gold in last-hits to my carry/tank lanemate who is actually dependent on items. Honestly, every now and again, I end with just the boots and the soulstealer... Anyway, here is why I choose what I choose.
Boots of Mobility gives a godly amount of movement speed when "out of combat." Healing and Infuse do not put you "in combat." This allows you to escape when you need to, harass when you need to, and always be faster than those who will want to kill and/or ban you forever.
Glacial Shroud gives CDR, Armor, and Mana. It's solid and it's cheap. Shroud, Elixir, and Masteries will cap your CDR. Capping CDR awesome and ban-inspiring. Bang for Buck, I think the shroud is an amazing item for Soraka.
Mejai's Soulstealer. I know what you are thinking... snowball items suck for someone who doesn't get kills. Wrong. You get stacks on assists, and let me assure you, you will get plenty of those. Soon as you break 5 stacks with Mejai's, it is better AP/gold than any AP item out there. It scales with your assists, so you don't have to go to base and you don't have to pay more money for more healing.
NOW ON TO LUXURY ITEMS:
Lich Bane is a solid upgrade for Sheen and Mejai's will only make it better. Soraka is constantly casting, so expect to be doing solid and unexpected DPS once you get it. Banana tosses hitting for 200-300 after a 200 or so damage AoE Starcall IS normal and will make people focus-fire and/or ban you.
Elixir of Brilliance is broken. It adds 65 Ability Power and 10% cooldowns for 300G. How can you beat that? Combined with your Shroud AND your masteries, that maxes your cooldown reduction which means more heals and Infuses which means more bans. Once you have lichbane, the 65 AP along with a modest 10-15 stacks on Mejai's will put you OVER 600 healing.
If you SERIOUSLY have more money...
[item_text=Zhonya's Ring]... once you get this, the round should end. The additional healing provided by it and your Mejai's will turn your tank into an unstoppable, tower-trashing fool. The active will mean that you can bait a little and survive long enough for your team to kill everyone should you get focus fired.
FINAL build should be... no, really, if you have MORE money than this, you are not doing it right. With this much healing, damage, cdr, and survivability, no one should die... EVER. Also, if YOU have this much money, even Tristana will have picked up a Guardian Angel just to finish the round off-- basically, I'm trying to say you should never actually have to buy Zhonya's.
Start: Amplifying Tome
potion optional, I usually forgo it. Tome increases your healing by 20, that is 25% increase in healing at rank 1 and over the course of early-game harassing will easily pay itself off over other choices.
Once you pick up Lich, expect the round to end. If you have the extra 300G, grab some elixirs! They are worth every last gold you spend on them in the late-game.
If the round goes on, feel VERY ASHAMED, and then go pick up pieces of Zhonya's and do yer job!
When the other team is SMART
If the other team is intelligent, they will focus fire you and the previous build as written is as thin as tissue paper.
If you find yourself in this position, I'd suggest dropping Mejai's for a Haunting Guise and Lich Bane for Aegis of the Legion. Do NOT get Aegis if your tank has it. If your tank has it, stick to him like fucking glue and build your glacial shroud then go for Lich Bane. The aura armor and mgr will help keep you alive with the hp from the Guise.
A COMBINATION of health and defenses are required to survive a heavy assault. It is exactly the same with AD and AS. AD alone isn't great without AS to back it up and AS alone means you hit a million times for approximately zero damage per hit. TOGETHER they make a character great. In terms of resistances and HP, HP alone will get torn through fast without armor to back it up and resistances alone will go only as far as your current health pool will allow.
500-700 damage healing is great and ban-worthy, but if you can't stay alive long enough to throw it out, you are useless. Better to stay alive to throw out 2 300 heals than die before you can get off 1 600 heal.
Getting Starcall early can get you killed. Please use it with caution. Good times to use it are when your lanemate jumps into the fray to harass. The enemy will be focused on him. Bad times to use it are... most other times. You are very vulnerable and people will want to kill you more and more as the round goes on. Be careful. Why get it if it is so dangerous? It helps get more Sheen procs and it helps harass, push creeps, and kill/assist. Every little bit helps.
Prioritizing Infuse is what will get you banned. Giving Ezrael, Zilean, or Scion unlimited mana is straight up unfair. If you happen to be laning with a ninja or manaless, a damage and silence will help keep the pressure on. Even rank 1 Blessing will keep your lanemate at full health if used every time it is up. Your masteries, runes, and clarity will keep your mana full even in hard laning situations-- save infuse for harassing and your lane-mate.
press q. Profit.
With Sheen or Lichbane, use your spells every other second so you get maximum hyper-bananas. After some practice, you can get farming jungle creeps down to a science. Although, jungle with restraint-- the money is MUCH better spent on your carry.
Working in the team
If you are ready to do a team fight but do not know where the opponent is, stay close to your tank. This will help avoid the unfortunate scenario of being picked off before the action begins. Once the team fight breaks out, keep your distance and heal heal heal. Soon as chaos has taken the throne and your enemies have their targets, go cause more chaos with Starfalls and banana-throwing. Chaos is your friend in team battles. NEVER TAKE GOLEM.
Use Clairvoyance before the fight so you can ping the focus target without pesky fog of war. By the time it is up, you can use it to assist your party when enemies flee into the jungle. Don't worry about wasting it, the more knowledge you have the better!
Use Infuse and Clarity to keep your party's mana full. A well placed improved Clarity is as much a morale boost for your team as it is physically useful in terms of mana power. Use it when 2-3 party members (likely including yourself) are missing about half their mana.
Use your sheen/lichbane hyper-bananas!!! I highly suggest keybinding an "attack move click." This will allow you to click anywhere and automatically target the nearest foe. Long as you are throwing damage out there, your role as Soraka goes from simple healbot to ban-worthy force of nature.
Shaco and Evelynn SUCK. If you run across them, it is ABSOLUTELY worth your while to buy a Vision Ward asap. First trip back, buy it and place it smack dab in the center of your lane. You have Clairvoyance, so you don't need to put it in the grass. Put it in the middle of the lane and I guarantee you'll be able to spot Shaco or Evelynn before they insta-kill you. Your partner may even be able to pick up some wtf-hax kills from their greedy asses as well. Don't forget to silence them to make sure they don't get away.
Gangplank and [spell_icon=Explosive Shot]Tristana ruin your healing. Early game wait until the debuffs are gone until you heal (unless they would otherwise die). Late-game, just pretend the debuff doesn't exist, but expect to feel like a useless pile of shit. Silence and hyperbanana them to demoralize them if they try to close in for their healing-reduction moves and painful dps.
Soraka does not get banned because she is individually good. She gets banned because she makes her other 4 party members absurdly powerful AS WELL as being individually good. The combination of skills, masteries, items, and tactics shown here are an attempt to maximize Soraka's potentials on all fronts.
I hope this guide has helped! If so, please comment even if to just say "hi." I also made an Ashe guide that no one likes :( I just made a Veigar guide that I think kicks tremendous ass. If you like the pint-sized king of evil, you should check it out. I plan to make one more guide for Amumu at some point, but it is hard to write a guide for a tank because your role is so enemy dependent and the greatest aspect in a tank's arsenal is mindset... Those things are hard to capture and explain how to have...