If you are a regular League of Legends player you’ll be aware of the fact that Riot has recently hit the support champions with the nerf hammer. Typically one of the champions picked for a team would be one that can support the team by shielding, CCing or healing (or all of those). But according to Riot the healing part was turning the bottom lane, where the support usually laned with an AD carry, into a boring farmfest that didn’t fit into their vision of the game. So they nerfed most of the support healing spells and replaced them with well, not much.
Tragic Love Story
Before the patch I was playing Soraka a lot. I learned to use Clairvoyance, stay back and support my team. Not that it was a hard job, but someone had to do it and had to do it well. I liked to think of myself as a good Soraka player, as I won most of my games played with her (over 60% win rate). I never thought of her as an imbalanced champion, since she had no escape and her healing spells had quite a bit of a cooldown, while her damage was non-existent. I would agree though, that when laning with a partner she made the setup very had to beat due to the sheer sustainability of her mana regeneration and healing spells. Which means that rather than the problem being in the champion, the problem is in the synergy the champion has with others.
In any case, when the supports got hit with the nerf hammer (Soraka, Sona and Taric got hit the most) they broke Soraka. While it might appear that the Moonchild can still do fairly well as a support in the laning phase, things start falling apart in the mid and late game. Because of the reduced ability power ratios, greatly increased cooldown on the heal and almost non-existent damage (when played as support at least), she’s pretty much useless in a team fight. After using the healing spell and the ultimate you’re pretty much stuck with autoattacking, spamming fluff damage and silencing every now and then. Which makes her a bit of a waste of a spot.
Players now seem to build her as a durable AP carry, which I really don’t see the point of. There are many champions better suited for that role (Alistar, Gragas, Karma) and frankly, if I wanted to play an AP carry I’d pick one, instead of trying to turn the failed support champion into something that doesn’t work as well. You can argue that Soraka as solo mid AP carry works well as much as you want. I’ve tried it myself and had a great deal of success, even before the changes (when it was harder), but it’s just not something I enjoy. If you do, good on you. Just know that I’ll probably be leaving any game with a Soraka pick (just as I do whenever someone picks Eve in the classic map), because being a part of an experimental build isn’t in any of my “kick ass and have fun doing it” plan.
So I thought I’m done with playing support for a while, since I didn’t enjoy playing any of the unaffected champions and the nerfed ones seemed to be doing just as poorly as Soraka. Until I tried Karma in a spur-of-the-moment thing, that is.
A Wild Karma Appears!
I’ve heard players say that Karma is one of the harder champions to play. Honestly, none of the champions are exactly hard to get the hang of, but there are some that are incredibly difficult to master. In my opinion, Karma is one of them.
For starters, she doesn’t have the usual ulti every other champion has, as it is replaced by an ability that empowers her other spells. For example, she normally doesn’t have a healing spell, but when empowered her cone AoE will heal everyone for a value and a percentage of their missing health, in addition to damaging the enemy. Her shield is a plain bubble, but when empowered it deals heavy AoE damage around the shielded target. And her leash slows/quickens targets for double the value when empowered.
The twist is that the ultimate only has two charges, which recharge quite slowly (around 30 seconds at level one) and without them her abilities aren’t nearly as powerful. But the recharge time lowers with levels and cooldown reduction, recharging at a rate of 12 seconds at level 18 and 40% cooldown reduction. Karma grows stronger the longer the game goes on.
Because her ultimate doesn’t take any ability points, the other three spells have six ranks each, instead of the usual five. I probably don’t have to point out that the result of that are high values on all of her spells, in addition to decent AP ratios.
Her passive increases her ability power according to her missing health, which means that she is deceptively strong when staying at lower health values. The duality of her spells means that she’ll be dealing more damage while being harder to kill at a low health. Running around baiting the enemy while almost dead has never been so fun. Go ahead, tower dive!
Did I mention that her leash ability requires positional awareness to execute well? It deals heavy damage to any enemy that crosses the beam, but damaging anyone is somewhat hard to achieve. The beam will always extend between Karma and your target, be it friend or foe and either slow down or quicken anyone who touches it. Killing someone with it is hard and most of the time requires the cooperation of your teammates, but when it happens it’s a thing of beauty.
All of this means that you have a champion that has to manage their ultimate charges, have good positional awareness and be able to manipulate their health without panicking, in addition to managing their mana, cooldowns and properly targetting friendlies to save them and assisting on killing enemies like other supports. It can all be a bit overwhelming.
I’m probably not even close to mastering Karma, but I’d certainly say that I make a decent support. Better than I would with Soraka, Sona or Taric, that’s for sure. The more I play her though, the more the path opens up and it’s becoming increasingly clear that Karma is an extremely potent hybrid champion that can deal and absorb damage, as well as support and manipulate the battle. Yes, I said killing. Not killing in style (as I don’t really fancy her looks), but elaborate killing where every kill is as exciting as the first. Elaborate like a hitman that chokes his victims with a piano wire while hanging upside down from a chandelier. Elaborate like a Spider man webbing a fly? Hm, needs work…