Managing Your Karma - A Guide to Karma Support
Sun 29th Sep 2019 - 11:27am
I won't lie. I'm inspired to take on a Karma guide simply due to the boo she received at the NALCS finals a few weeks back. But instead of looking at her Kleptomancy-abusing playstyle, I'm looking at her from the Support role! Going forward we'll break down all you need to know about Karma Support from runes, matchups, ability usage, items, and lane partners. Let's rack up some good karma, shall we?
Passive - Gathering Fire
Karma reduces Mantra’s cooldown by 2/3/4 (based on level) seconds every time she damages an enemy champion with an ability. This effect is halved on basic attacks.
This passive supports a poke and stick style of play. Thankfully, the rest of Karma’s kit does as well. As you weave abilities in fights, this passive can come in clutch to help maintain uptime on shields and damage.
Q - Inner Flame
Karma fires a skillshot in a target direction that detonates on the first enemy hit , dealing magic damage and slowing all enemies around the target by 35% for 1.5 seconds.
W - Focused Resolve
Karma tethers herself to a target champion or monster, dealing magic damage and linking the two for up to 2 seconds. During this effect the target is revealed. If the tether holds for its duration, the target is dealt the same magic damage again, is revealed, and is rooted for a duration.
E - Inspire
Karam shields the target allied champion or herself for 2.5 seconds granting them bonus movement speed for 1.5.
R - Mantra
Karma empowers her next ability within 8 seconds to gain an additional effect.
Mantra + Q - Soulflare
Inner Flame detonates upon hitting an enemy or reaching maximum range, dealing bonus magic damage in an increased area. A field lingers around the detonation for 1.5 seconds that slows enemies by 50%, after which it explodes, dealing magic damage to all enemies inside.
Mantra + W - Renewal
Focused Resolve’s duration is increased and heals Karma for 20% of her missing health (+1% AP). This effect occurs again if the target dies while tethered or is rooted.
Mantra + E - Defiance
Inspire’s target receives bonus shielding, and the effects are extended to allied champions around them, except they only gain 30% of the shield.
We’ve got the framework now, so let’s look towards situational uses of these abilities and how to weave them together:
Normal Q/Mantra + Q
First, consider the splash damage effect of the ability. Both modes of this spell cleave when they strike enemy units. When hitting minions, the damage that comes through can affect the state of the wave. This means that your own minions will have a health advantage and will naturally begin to shove against enemy minions as they fight. Consider when you’re going for poke if it’s an appropriate time to cleave onto minions to affect the state of the wave. Sometimes it is more advantageous to look for direct line poke, and in this case Karma’s Mantra-Q offers a bit more of a forgiving skillshot for direct champ poke. But the cleave from this cast is much wider and it's heavier against waves should it hit. A misfired Q may screw up a freeze or slow-push, so do your best to avoid contact if you like the wave's position. The base damage of this ability early is high so it pounds enemy laners and waves due to their low resistances. Try to avoid stealing minion or champion kills with it if you can, but never let a kill go unsecured if it’s available.
Normal W/Mantra + W
Focused Resolve is our follow up to a successfully hit Q. The slow Q provides allows you to move into range to cast W and hopefully lock a successful tether. Keep in mind aggro from the wave and poke from the enemy as you approach for the successful root. There’s a window were enemies can dash or use spells to escape the tether, and unless we’re full committing to the engagement, Karma does make herself vulnerable by walking forward for this bind. She’s not exactly the tankiest sort, so we’ve got to be aware of a possible turn around at any moment.
When engaging on low HP, if the enemy turns on us, Mantra+W offers us a way to bounce back. The heal on Mantra+W is deceptively strong and we’ll be building items as support that buff up shields and healing. Though this combo won’t save us from a Tristana + Leona ultimate all-in, it can give us a small window of advantage to pop off a shield on ourselves or our allies. And maybe we can walk away with empowered movement speed, or maybe we’re just slapping a shield on our allies before our inevitable doom. Either way, this effect buys us time, and sometimes that’s all you need to turn a fight.
Normal E/Mantra + E
Most think of the shield effect first when they consider the E, but I’ll press you to consider the movement speed bonuses first. The ability to help our carries position appropriately is a vastly underrated effect in Karma’s kit, and if we can get our carries into perfect kiting position then their DPS will be maximized. Or, if we can get our jungler in quickly, they can help us take advantage of unaware enemies.
Unempowered E affects one ally or Karma. We can use this ability to continue the chase after a successful Q+W to secure the root, or we can use it to boost ourselves out if we see the turn by our enemy coming in. Empowered E can act as both a massive party shield mid-fight, and a mini-Shurelya’s Reverie, allowing for speedy movements to objectives, to chase down kills, or engage or disengage from teamfights. Karma’s E is the most creative bit of kit, and by carefully considering where our allies and opponents are, we can maximize its effects and enable our team.
The following clip shows a little bit of everything mentioned above. Check it out and see how it all flows together in the heat of the moment!
Primary Keystone/Runes: Summon Aery - Mana Flow Band - Transcendence - Scorch
Secondary Runes: Biscuit Delivery - Cosmic Insight
Summon Aery accents every bit of Karma's kit. This Keystone boosts her potential shields on allies and adds extra damage to her poke. It also has a higher uptime than its fellow Sorcery Keystone, Arcane Comet. And with Karma's low cooldowns and build paths naturally promoting CDR, having Aery fly about the battlefield tacking on extra damage will add up more than Comet's initial burst.
As Karma pokes away at her enemies, Manaflow Band (MFB) increases her maximum mana pool. When this rune fully stacks at 250, the rune then restores 1% of Karma's missing mana every 5 seconds. MFB helps mitigate the mana-drain from Karma's spammy playstyle and allows her to stay in lane longer thanks to its regeneration effects.
Transcendence gives Karma an extra 10% CDR at level 10 and turns every 1% of CDR beyond cap into adaptive damage. Support items typically come packaged with built-in CDR, and from the CDR this rune gives and the itemization you'll follow, you'll break the cap easily. The extra damage this rune converts it to is always welcome.
Scorch provides a burn on successfully hit spells every 10 seconds. This is strictly more damage that Karma welcomes due to her desires to want to win the lane phase.
Karma's mana pool goes through some struggles early as she fishes for poke. Biscuits come in earlier and faster than they ever have before and are great way to pump back your mana.
Cosmic Insight is the go-to after Biscuit Delivery. This rune is just flat out great on supports. It comes with CDR, increases the CDR cap, and reduces item and summoner spell cooldowns.
The core identity of Karma is at the Enchanter/Enchantress role. Though she's capable of doing a great amount of early damage, she still wants to accent her team instead of being its source of damage. With this in mind, she's naturally drawn to items like the following:
Remnant of the Watchers is the completed Spellthief's Edge support item. Support items are an absolute must for any champ playing the role, and Karma's kit is best utilized by the Spellthief's Edge line. In situations where you're fearful of all-in or want to play an extremely passive style, you can go the route of Ancient Coin, but this item doesn't push you to play Karma in the aggressive style that Karma's designed for.
Boots are a 100% buy. Gauge what source of damage is coming out from your enemy and decide on which of these boots you need. Against AD teams, you want Ninja Tabis. Against heavy CC, you want Mercury's Treads. Sorcerer's Shoes and Boots of Mobility can be your 'default' options. If you want more damage from your spells, go Sorc-Shoes. If you're looking to roam or get vision quickly and get back to lane, grab Boots of Mobility!
Ardent Censer is an absolute must. This item boosts Karma's shielding ability, provides attack-speed bonuses to our team, and comes packaged with all the stats we want at the support role.
Athene's Unholy Grail is another great buy for Karma. This item rewards her for landing successful poke by making her shields stronger on her team.
Redemption finds its way well into Karma's kit. It, like the other items, gives stats that Karma cares about. With this item though, we have an effective active effect to utilize in teamfights.
Mikael's Crucible can be slotted into your build if your team is in need of some spot CC-removal. This item doesn't push Karma's kit like the others here, but don't sleep on its active when you need that quick cleanse!
Twin Shadows, aka Spooky Ghosts, isn't an item you see built a lot at support or on Karma, but I recommend this item heavily. When your team doesn't need a Grievous Wounds effect or CC-removal from Mikael's, this item is great for helping Karma safely scout out the jungle to get deep vision. The active from this item also helps her keep the pressure on her opponents through its slowing effect, allowing for easy W-tethers.
Morellonomicon can be pricey on a support's budget, but as an early game support, you might walk away with a few kills to expedite this purchase. Keep this item on your radar against teams that have high healing champions like Soraka or Vladimir.
I don't strongly recommend going after Locket of the Iron Solari, but this item does have its place against comps with higher AP burst. At a minimum, keep it on the radar but don't ever push for this item.
Lane Partner Suggestions: Jinx, Jhin, Ashe, Caitlyn.
All supports can work with any carry in bot, but there's always optimal choices when it comes down to lane synergy. When considering the above champions, each of them possesses a heavy amount of range and wave clear in their kits. Each of them wants to slam waves into turrets and keep the enemy under pressure. Karma accents their abilities with her own but also helps cover for the weakness in each of their kits. Aside from Caitlyn, the above carries do not possess any sort of escape outside of Flash. Karma helps these champions get over their immobility through the speed boost and shield on her E, Inspire.
When should you play Karma? What champs does she perform well into?
Karma is an excellent pick into more peel-oriented supports and short-range carries. She bullies out champions like Braum, Alistar, Tristana, and Vayne through the early levels. She naturally floats outside of the ranges of the carries, and when she enters them, it's for the kill.
Against champions with hard engage supports like Leona or Rakan and hook champions like Pyke, Thresh, and Blitzcrank, Karma has a rougher time. Immobility is the defining weakness of Karma's kit, and each of these champions makes use of that weakness. Though she can certainly out poke these lanes, you always have to take extra consideration towards the enemy's all-in potential when you move up. And this can sometimes force you into a slower-paced lane which doesn't suit Karma's strengths.
Ultimately, Karma is an enchantress that bests slots in with an aggressive team. She falls off late and becomes nothing more than an Ardent Censor-bot in the late game. Though this isn't the WORST outcome for a champion, playing a champ away from their power spikes isn't making full or correct use of their intended capabilities. Consider what it is your team wants to accomplish as you make your selection. If you want to win hard and fast and enjoy the enchanter/mage style of play, Karma could be right up your alley!
TL;DR - Karma is a lane bully that provides heavy early game poke and movement speed bonuses from her kit. She excels at shoving shorter range carries and supports, and is weak to lanes with higher ranges and better all in. She’s an early game champ that falls off late, so she wants to be a part of a snowballing duo or comp.
I’m sure you’ve racked up some good karma for reading this guide! But remember, good karma must be utilized properly, so be sure you’re partnered with an ally that likes to poke, shove, and speed around the map! Thanks again for reading, and best of luck on Summoner’s Rift!
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