Karma is one of League of Legends most flexible picks, and is now a potent force across top, mid, and bot lane. No matter what lane you want to take her in, we’ve got the ultimate guide to mastering her, including the best builds and runes.
Karma was a fringe character in League of Legends back on release, but her Season 3 rework — which stands strong to this day — has allowed her to flux in and out of the meta.
If you’re picking up the Enlightened One for the first time, or are a Mastery 7 veteran looking for that extra edge, we’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to know about Karma in our ultimate guide including the best builds and runes.
Who is Karma?
Karma is not one entity, but the Spirit of Ionia itself. Currently in the body of Darha, Karma has absorbed the memories of previous generations of her Ionian soul, and uses them to guide Ionia through its darkest times as its spiritual leader.
On Summoner’s Rift, Karma is a spell-spamming enchanter, throwing out plenty of utility to help her allies — and bring enemies to their knees — across multiple roles in top, mid, and support.
Karma abilities & gameplay
As we just mentioned, Karma’s kit is all about throwing out her spells to keep enemies at bay and keep carries alive. She only really has access to three abilities — her Q, W, and E — while her Mantra ultimate transforms them into super-powered versions of themselves.
A lot of Karma’s gameplay comes from figuring out what Mantra ability you need to use at the right time. Because she can quickly get it off cooldown by hitting multiple enemies, Mantra Q might seem like the best.
However, Mantra E often provides the most utility to your team even after recent nerfs. Being able to get team-wide buffs for Shurelya’s and Staff of Flowing Water (more on that later) is great.
As a solo laner, you want to focus on poking down the enemy with Q while avoiding return harass with E. However, come teamfighting, it’s all about keeping carries alive.
- Passive: Gathering Fire — Abilities that damage enemy champions reduce Mantra’s cooldown.
- Q: Inner Flame
- Karma sends forth a ball of spirit energy that explodes and deals damage upon hitting an enemy unit.
- Mantra Bonus: In addition to the explosion, Mantra increases the destructive power of her Inner Flame, creating a cataclysm which deals damage after a short delay.
- W: Focused Resolve
- Karma creates a tether between herself and a targeted enemy, dealing damage and revealing them. If the tether is not broken, the enemy will be rooted and damaged again.
- Mantra Bonus: Karma strengthens the link, healing herself and extending the root duration.
- E: Inspire
- Karma summons a protective shield that absorbs incoming damage and increases the Move Speed of the protected ally.
- Mantra Bonus: Energy radiates out from her target, strengthening the initial shield and applying Inspire to nearby allied champions.
- R: Mantra — Karma empowers her next ability to do an additional effect. Mantra is available at level 1 and does not require a skill point.
Best build for Karma
No matter what lane you take Karma in — support, mid, or even top — her build pretty much stays the same. There are some slight adjustments for each role (and lane matchup), but she ends up building plenty of team-wide buff items to match her playstyle.
Mythic-wise, Shurelya’s Battlesong is going to be your go-to in most situations. Karma can easily proc the Motivate passive with her empowered E. However, if you don’t need the mobility, Moonstone Renewer allows her to heal allies constantly during fights.
From there, Karma excels with any item that gives her extra utility. Any of the Forbidden Idol items are great, but Staff of Flowing Water has the best synergy, allowing her to spam more spells.
Chemtech Putrifier is also a decent pickup across the board, giving you and an ally Grievous Wounds to shut down enemy healing. However, if you want a more damage-centric build, Morellonomicon is a fine option too.
Top meta Karma items in Season 11
- Mythic: Shurelya’s Battlesong / Moonstone Renewer
- Boots: Ionian Boots of Lucidity / Plated Steelcaps (against auto-attackers)
- Staff of Flowing Water
- Ardent Censor (if your team is auto-attack centric)
- Mikael’s Blessing (if you need a cleanse for your carries)
- Chemtech Putrifier / Morellonomicon (if you need healing reduction)
- Vigilant Wardstone (if you hit level 13 as a support)
Best runes for Karma
Like most mages, Karma thrives with the Sorcery tree. There are two options for the Enlightened One, the more aggressive Arcane Comet or the supportive Summon Aery.
In most situations, Arcane Comet is better. Having the stronger poke for lane is better than Aery, and if Karma gets ahead early, she becomes a total menace.
Opting into that early strategy with Manaflow Band, Transcendence, and Scorch is good. However, in solo lanes, Gathering Storm is also a good idea so that she can keep up with enemy laners as the game progresses.
You have two choices of secondary runes too. Bone Plating and Revitalize in the Resolve tree is the more flexible option, but if you’re struggling with mana, Biscuit Delivery and Cosmic Insight are your friends in the Inspiration tree.
Top meta Karma runes in Season 11
- Arcane Comet / Summon Aery
- Manaflow Band
- Scorch / Gathering Storm
- Bone Plating / Revitalize (if going Resolve)
- Biscuit Delivery / Cosmic Insight (if going Inspiration)
Karma skins in League of Legends
- Sakura Karma — 520 RP
- Warden Karma — 750 RP
- Sun Goddess Karma (Legacy) — 750 RP
- Order of the Lotus Karma — 975 RP
- Traditional Karma (Legacy) — 975 RP
- Conqueror Karma (Legacy) — 975 RP
- Dark Star Karma — 1350 RP
- Odyssey Karma — 1350 RP
- Ruined Karma — 1350 RP
- Winter Wonder Karma (Legacy) — 1350 RP
- Dawnbringer Karma — 10 Gemstones
No matter whether you want to take Karma into top or mid, or play her more traditionally in support, this guide should help you perfect all her playstyles.
If you can learn the crux of her kit, you’ll be able to climb all the way to the top with just one champion — even if you get autofilled.