Karma, the Enlightened One, is one of the most well-rounded supports in League of Legends. Despite what her 49.25% win rate and 7.64% pick rate in Solo Queue might indicate, Karma can seamlessly carry games with her mix of utility and damage. Let’s see how you can use her to take over your games!
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Passive: Gathering Flame
Matra’s [R] cooldown is reduced every time Karma damages an enemy champion with an ability (by 2/3/4 seconds) or an auto attack (by 1/1.5/2 seconds). The numbers in parentheses are stated for levels 1/7/13.
How to use: While Gathering Flame isn’t the most game-changing passive, it’s still pretty good. Its main benefit lies in the laning phase. Weaving in auto attacks will allow you to reduce the cooldown on your ultimate and be much more aggressive in trades. Hell, even when you enter the mid game, you should be constantly auto attacking enemy champions to make the most out of your passive.
Q: Inner Flame
Karma conjures a bolt of energy and sends it in the target direction. The bolt detonates upon hitting an enemy unit, dealing damage to all nearby enemies and slowing them by 25% for 1.5 seconds.
Mantra – Soulflare: Inner Flame deals more damage in a larger area. Additionally, the place where it lands is marked, slowing all enemies inside it by 50%. After 1.5 seconds, the marked area detonates, dealing damage to all enemies inside. If the ability doesn’t find a target, the marked zone is created at its maximum range.
How to Use: Inner Flame is the perfect spell for taking over the laning phase. The fact that it deals AoE damage allows you to push the wave while simultaneously harassing the enemy marksman. Keep in mind, though, that the basic version of the spell isn’t easy to land, which means you’ll have to predict enemy movement or bounce it off minions.
As for the Mantra version, it’s great in the early game. There’s no better feeling than connecting a good R > Q combo, but keep in mind that missing it can be devastating in all-in scenarios. That’s why you want to hold it until you’re certain you’ve got a clear shot. Wait for the minion wave to clear up or for the enemy AD carry to move in for a last-hit, and pull off a quick combo. If you want to connect both parts of the ability, the best time to this is when the enemy marksman is chasing you or trying to CS under his turret.
W: Focused Resolve
Karma creates a tether between her and the target enemy champion (or monster) for 2 seconds, dealing magic damage and granting true sight for the duration. If the target doesn’t move away far enough to break the tether, Focused Resolve deals more damage and roots its target in place for a short time.
Mantra – Renewal: Focused Resolve heals Karma for 20% missing health upon being cast and upon rooting its target. The root duration is increased.
How to use: Unlike your other basic abilities, Focused Resolve isn’t a very spammable spell, but it can be game-changing when you use it. Most of the time, you want to cast it to peel a diver off your carry. Keep in mind, though, that you have to stick next to your target, which places you in immediate danger of being killed.
Fortunately, the empowered version of the ability restores health, so you should be able to survive unless your target is ridiculously fed. Another use of Focused Resolve is initiating fights. If you buff yourself with Inspire [E] and follow it up with an instant tether, it will be very hard for your enemies to escape, provided they don’t have gap closers.
Karma surrounds the target allied champion (or herself) with a protective barrier, granting them bonus movement speed for 4 seconds.
Mantra – Defiance: Inspire overcharges with energy, increasing the strength of its original barrier, shielding all nearby allies, and granting them the same bonus movement speed.
How to use: On its own, Inspire is a handy ability that can be used to mitigate damage, dodge skill shots, or make a swift escape. But if it’s preceded by a Mantra, Inspire can very well cover your team with a 5-man shield. If that wasn’t enough, the movement speed bonus persists too, and you can cast R > E to kick-start a fight or get out of a sticky situation.
Karma enhances her next basic ability used within 8 seconds. Karma begins the game with 1 rank in Mantra, and she can increase it at levels 6, 11, and 16.
How to Use: Yeap, you start the game with your ultimate! We’ve already walked through all Mantra upgrades, but we can’t help stressing how massive this ability is in the laning phase. Of course, it’s reasonable to think that Karma falls off in the late game because her ultimate is essentially an improved version of her basic abilities. But considering how powerful your R > E combo is, you won’t lose much ground to other supports.
R > Q > E > W
Inner Flame [Q] is the best laning spell in Karma’s arsenal, so you should always rank it up first. That being said, you don’t want to max it, and it’s generally better to put 3-4 points into it and switch to Inspire [E]. This is because the Mantra + Shield combo will be your main way of bringing utility to the mid game teamfights, and you want it to be as strong as possible.
Finish your build with Focused Resolve [W]. The spell is useful enough, but you won’t be spamming it like your other basic abilities. Also, don’t forget to put points in Mantra [R] when possible.
Karma Runes and Summoner Spells
Karma’s ideal runes are in Sorcery and Inspiration paths. From the former, you want to grab the Summon Aery keystone to enhance your poke and your shields. Follow it up with the Ultimate Hat. The CDR has insane synergy with Mantra [R], and you can start stacking it from the very first seconds of the game. Transcendence is another great rune for increasing your utility in the mid game. Finally, Scorch is the perfect choice for making your presence known in the laning phase.
As for the Inspiration tree, you want to get Magical Footwear to gain more movement speed as well as a faster item powerspike. Throw in Cosmic Insight on top of it for the extra bit of CDR.
Karma is a lane bully first and foremost, so you often want to get Ignite as one of your summoner spells. That being said, Exhaust also has its merits against assassins and bruisers. Your second summoner should always be Flash. Karma doesn’t have any actual gap closers in her kit, and a well-timed Flash can save her life or open up a playmaking opportunity.
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1.) Eye of the Watchers > Ionian Boots of Lucidity > Ardent Censer > Redemption > Athene’s Unholy Grail > Locked of the Iron Solari
Karma’s build revolves around empowering Inspire [E]. Eye of the Watchers is perfect for its combination of health, ability power, and cooldown reduction. Ionian Boots of Lucidity are a great source of CDR for regular abilities and summoner spells. Ardent Censer is still a strong item on shielding/healing supports, and the fact that the Mantra > inspire combo can affect your entire team means you can potentially provide massive 5-man buffs.
Next is Redemption. Its stats are decent enough, but the real thing you’re after is its healing active. As for Athene’s Unholy Grail, spamming Inspire will let you make the most of its unique passive, and its always nice to have your shields heal their targets. Round out your build with Locket of the Iron Solari. The item is amazing at countering burst and AoE damage, so don’t hesitate to get it in place of Redemption if you’re facing several strong assassins.
Despite the fact we’ve listed 6 items in our build, we’d advise you to leave one slot open for Control Wards. Securing vision around key objectives will open up unique playmaking opportunities. And that is far more valuable than another utility item on a support.
Unlike other supports, Karma doesn’t have many situational items. Sure, you could bet Boots of Mobility to move around the map faster, but for the most part, Ionian Boots of Lucidity will be far more effective thanks to their CDR. Besides, you can cast Inspire [E] to increase your movement speed.
It’s worth noting that Karma has respectable base AP values, so an item like Liandry’s Torment can be quite useful if your team needs more damage. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Mikael’s Crucible. Its stats are potent enough, but its cleansing active can be a real game-changer if your carries are refusing to build Quicksilver Sash.
When to pick Karma?
Karma is a lane bully that wants to get in the driver’s seat from the very start of the game. She works exceedingly well with long-ranged AD carries that have a lot of pushing power (Ashe, Caitlyn, Varus) or poke-heavy picks that thrive on lane priority (Ezreal, Miss Fortune). The Mantra – Defiance [R > E] combo is great for setting up fights or saving your teammates, and it makes Karma the perfect fit for most compositions. In fact, if you see your team not drafting any tanks and opting in for carries in every lane, Karma is one of the few champions that can salvage the situation.
Karma Matchups and Counters
Karma excels at bullying melee tanks and standing up to mage supports. The combination of Inner Flame [Q] and Inspire [R] is capable of winning short-term trades against most conventional supports as well. However, strong utility picks like Sona, Lulu, Nami, or Janna will be able to sustain through your poke while returning a lot of damage on top of that. Not only that, but initiators like Alistar, Leona, and Blitzcrank will make it next to impossible for you to harass and peel for your AD carry.
Laning Phase and Early Game
Karma wants to take over the laning phase as soon as possible, and this means winning the push. Start your laning phase by auto attacking the creep wave and throw in an Inner Flame [Q] for good measure. Your goal isn’t to steal CS from your AD carry but rather to force the enemy duo under its turret. Before that happens, though, you’ll have an opportunity for a guaranteed R > Q combo when the enemy marksman enters the lane and tries to last-hit first minions.
From then on, keep looking for angles to weave in your Q between creeps or to make it bounce off caster minions. As soon as you hit level 2, you can cast Inspire [E] on yourself and walk up for the AA > Q > AA combo. Mix in a Mantra [R], and you’ll chunk out the opposing carry for a ton of health. Still, the sweet spot for Karma is when her wave crashes into the enemy turret. From there, it’s easy to connect Inner Flame because the enemy bot lane will have to walk up to get CS, and you can proc Spellthief’s Edge on a turret t ogain more gold.
Keep in mind, though, that you’re not a mage support, and you can—and should—use Inspire [E] defensively. Time it to protect your marksman from auto attacks and dangerous skill shots. Hell, you can even buff your AD carry preemptively when you’re planning to go for a trade.
Your second powerspike comes at level 4. Focused Resolve [W] doesn’t sound like a particularly dangerous ability, but it can force summoners or get kills if you cast it on an immobile target. Just remember to give yourself a movement speed boost beforehand.
A huge part of Karma’s gameplay comes down to Mantra usage. During your first few levels, it’s fine to spam your ultimate on cooldown to empower Inner Flame, but you’ll have to get more selective as the game progresses. For example, if the enemy duo has kill pressure on you, it’s a good idea to hold Mantra for a heal from W. In a similar fashion, if you feel a jungler approaching, save your ultimate for the R > E combo to escape an incoming gank.
In the mid game, most of Karma’s usefulness comes from Mantra – Defiance [R > E]. The 5-man shield that speeds up your entire team is almost like Sivir’s ultimate, but you can spam it much more often. The best time to cast it is when you’re looking to start a fight or kite out the enemy team. The latter is especially great since most people in Solo Queue won’t pay attention to their teammates and will get carried away chasing after you.
Of course, you aren’t reduced to being a shield bot. The R > Q combo is amazing for making picks and catching people out, and R > W makes you deceptively tanky in teamfights. In general, though, you should focus on peeling for your carries and dismantling enemy divers before charging at the enemy backline with Mantra – Defiance.
If your team is on the same page, you can use the same R > E combo to make split-second rotations and rush objectives. Still, you never want to get trapped in the pit. After all, there’s no room for kiting here.
Even though Karma doesn’t have a ‘real’ ultimate, she can do a lot of work in the late game. For one, your shield becomes massive, and you can cast it to mitigate a ton of damage from the enemy carries. More importantly, having items like Redemption, Locket, and Mikael’s Crucible means you can save your teammates in the direst situations while baiting enemy divers into losing fights. Combine that with the 5-man Ardent Censer buffs and reduced Mantra [R] cooldown, and Karma may very well be the queen of late game.
Karma is amazing at finding leads in the laning phase and translating them into the later stages of the game. Her built-in utility is emphasized by her itemization options, turning Karma into one of the best peeling supports in the game. And if you master the ins and outs of her kit, you’ll find it easier than ever to climb the Solo Queue ladder.
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