League of Legends: Karma’s a Bitch, Ain’t it?
Patch v18.104.22.168, Karma, AI revamps, and the greed of Doran
By Jason (Hhean) Harper, OnRPG Journalist
Greetings fellow summoners! This is the patch v22.214.171.124 article for League of Legends, the game containing the sexiest of Buddhas. This patch sees inflation hit Runeterra as Doran raises his prices, mages feel a bit less runic, but a bit more magical and Karma, The Enlightened One takes to the fields of justice.
Karma is a damage dealing support character, or a damage dealing mage with good support capabilities, depending on how you choose to build, level and play her. She is quite possibly the most unintuitive character in the game, best suited to using her defensive abilities to hurt the enemy and using her damaging abilities to aid her allies. She is highly adaptive, and more than any other character in game, should change her levelling order and item build depending on ally and enemy team composition.
Her passive, Inner Flame, gives her ability power as she loses health. While this is useful, don’t try to use it to maximise her damage output. It’s worth remembering that it does make her Soul Shield better though, which can save her from a gank on occasion.
Her Ultimate, Mantra [R], will allow her next ability to perform an additional effect, usually performing a reverse function to the original ability.
Mantra is unusual in that she receives it for free at level 1, and cannot level it further after that. To compensate for this, the rest of her abilities have 6 levels, rather than the usual 5. Most of her abilities are below par on their own, but when enhanced with Mantra, they perform very well. Mantra has an ammo system, allowing Karma to carry up to two stacks of Mantra at a time, which are indicated either in the buff bar or by the little red fans floating around her.
Before you think a fight is about to kick off, it’s a good idea to prime Mantra ahead of time, as the frustratingly long cooldown will be that little bit shorter if you have another stack building while Karma is holding onto a Mantra. This almost grants you a third stack if you get the timing down very precisely, and you have stacked a good deal of cooldown reduction later in the game. Mastery of Mantra management is the differences between an awful Karma and a great one.
A note to those playing against Karma – When she has none of those fans floating about, that’s a great time to attack without mercy.
Heavenly Wave [Q], is a short range conical attack that can be enhanced by her mantra to also heal allies in the cone and herself for the same amount. It’s not quite as short range as it appears though, as the visual on her cone is slightly smaller than the ability’s actual range.
Heavenly Wave is her main support skill, though it requires some finesse to use, much like Lux’s Prismatic Barrier. Ideally, you want to be using this to both injure enemies, and heal allies, but in most circumstances this can be used to heal people when they’re not all running around like headless chickens somewhere safe. Using the enhanced version of this, alongside a normal Soul Shield is a very safe, sustainable means of farming, provided you have a means of keeping her mana up.
Pick up Heavenly Wave or Soul Shield early and max it first, depending on if you intend to go support or damage. This ability is the better choice for support and sustainability.
Spirit Bond [W], shoots out a tether to an ally or enemy near her. Any allies who are hit by the tether, or move through the tether will give them a movement speed increase. An enemy you target will be slowed, and any enemy moving through the tether (Whether its tied to friend or foe) will be damaged and slowed. Using Mantra on this ability will increase the slow or speed boost, which can be useful for moving between lanes or chasing. Generally though, try to avoid enhancing this in anything close to a real fight, as she only has two stacks available, and her other two abilities are more useful for aiding allies and killing enemies.
This can be used as a farming tool, as you can target a minion, then use the tether to damage anything nearby. The drawback to this trick though is it will usually leave you out of position, and her other two abilities can farm more effectively while leaving her less exposed.
Pick this up either when your enemies pick up boots in order to maintain a mobility advantage or when you feel the laning phase is coming to a close, and will need the added mobility to get you and your teammates around the map. Max it out last.
Soul Shield [E], creates a protective shield on a friendly target, absorbing a set amount of damage. If you expend Mantra, the shield will explode the moment its cast, hurting everything in a large area around the target.
Soul Shield looks like a support ability, but is actually better suited as her primary nuke and harassing tool, since it can be used on minions as well as champions. As a champion moves in to last hit a minion, you shield it, stopping the hit, and then the following explosion does a significant amount of damage. Your tank rushing into an enemy team is its most obvious usage later in the game, the resulting explosion putting you in a life lead for any team fight. Following this with an enhanced Heavenly Wave for more damage and healing can secure a victory in your favour.
If you’re looking to pump out damage, and want to do some heavy harassment during the laning phase, this is a great early game pick. Max this first for a damage dealing Karma with a support ability on the side. This is my personal preference, since the shield and incredible range on the attack can keep your health up enough that the lower healing from her Heavenly Wave won’t be as much of a concern.
Item wise, you want to focus on ability power and cooldown reduction for her. Focusing more on cooldown early will allow her access to Mantra more frequently, which on a support focused Karma will allow for more healing. A damage dealing should think more about her ability power earlier on. On either build, Ionian boots are a good choice, netting her some early game cooldown at a low cost. Provided you aren’t being crowd controlled so heavily that Mercury Treads become a must, that is. Banksy’s Deathcap works very well on her, given its synergy with her passive. Due to the close range of many of her abilities, Abyssal Scepter makes a great defensive/offensive item when dealing with magic heavy teams. Soul Shroud is a great support item on her giving both her and her teammates her much needed cooldown. Despite the increased cost, a Doran’s Ring works fine on Karma to begin with, due to few of the cheaper items building into something optimal for her.
9/0/21 works fine on her for masteries. Cooldown runes on her are a must. Mp5 per level, and magic penetration on her are solid choices, along with ability power. Clarity is great for her lane sustainability, since she has no mana regeneration abilities, and can eat through her blue bar at speed if she chooses to. Ghost works very well alongside Spirit Bond for getting around the map.
Karma benefits greatly from having an organized team, both from the very specific placement required in order to maximise Spirit Bond, needing a friendly target to perform her most damaging ability, and her allies needing to be standing in the correct position between her and her enemies in order to be healed. In solo queuing she suffers greatly because of this, but in a premade team she can do quite well. I’m finding her a hard champion to judge the overall power of because of this, and that’s after half a week of near constant play. My final verdict on her currently stands that she’s good, but not great. If you’re looking for a complicated, deep character with plenty of versatility, give her a go. Just remember to use all of her abilities backwards to what looks like their intended purpose at first glance.
The most significant change to the game overall though is the increase in the cost of Doran’s items. Expect to see much more conservative play from here on in, and an increase in people buying cheaper items so they can stock up on potions. Rejuvenation Beads, Sapphire Crystals and Meki Pendants are most likely going to be seen a lot more from here on out.
The gap between the haves and the have nots got shortened this patch, with mana regeneration overall being buffed, while mana regeneration runes got nerfed. The nerfing of health quintessences lets theory crafters debate which quintessences to pick up, and may now allow for a greater array of choices. I would guess that we will likely see a slight rise in the number of armour pen., magic pen., and movement speed quintessences.
The new AI are a fun diversion to engage in when testing out builds, but they’re incredibly stupid still. Rather hoping the upcoming intermediate difficulty for the co-op mode will break this trend.
To discuss some of the changes yourselves, visit the League of Legends section of our forums, or post in the massive League of Legends thread in the free to play MMOs section. If you haven’t tried League of Legends yet. Now is the perfect time.