After receiving a Synergy-wide buff, and Karma changed for the better, Dawnbringers have found a spot in the meta.
Sample Level 8 Comp:
This comp plays to the standard Level 8 Comp leveling if you are playing for Karma.
- Level 4 => 2-1 if you hit a strong board early game; if you have not, wait until 2-2 at the earliest to level up.
- Level 5 => 2-5 with 10 gold or on 3-1 if loss streaking.
- Level 6 => 3-2 with 30+ gold and roll a bit if you have important pairs or are one unit away from a major synergy (usually 4 Dawnbringer).
- Level 7 => 4-1 and then roll as much as needed to stabilize your board.
- Level 8 => 4-5 if you did not have to roll on 4-1; otherwise, you can level up on 5-1. If you leveled on 4-5, if you are extremely rich you can roll down here; otherwise, you will likely be waiting until 5-1 to do your final rolldown.
- Level 9 => Once you have two starred your main board and cannot hit any meaningful upgrades, you can look to go level 9. However, this is dependent on your HP and econ. You can sometimes skip level 8 and go directly to 9 if you natural enough upgrades, or if lobby hp is close and your econ is low, you may need to roll on 8 because you will not make it to level 9.
- Very high cap
- Can be pretty consistent
- Somewhat reliant on Karma targeting RNG in the late game.
- Very weak to assassins.
Notes on Shadow Items
Shadow items have an [S] in front for clarity in this guide. Exercise caution when taking Shadow Components without having a Shadow item you can immediately complete because they are less flexible than the normal components.
Shadow Items to consider taking:
- Shadow Tear
- Shadow Belt
- Shadow Rod
- Shadow Chain
Spear of Shojin [Tear + Sword] > Blue Buff = [S] Dark Blue Buff [Tear + Tear]: All of these Mana generation items are good on Karma, helping to reduce the time of her first cast, enabling her to reach her perma-ulting state faster.
Blue Buff | Dark Blue Buff + 2 Invoker => 2 Autos First Ult | 2 Autos Second Ult | 1 Auto Third Ult
Shojin + Invoker => 2 Autos First Ult | 2 Autos Second Ult | 1 Auto Third Ult
With 4 Invoker, Shojin requires one more auto attack than Blue Buff, making Blue Buff better. However, Shojin uses up a sword, making it so you don’t need to prioritize Tear as much on Carousels and can focus more on the frontline and damage itemizations.
TLDR: Blue Buff>Shojin with 4 Invoker, and they are equal with 2 Invoker, but Shojin is more practical to make since it uses fewer Tears
- Jeweled Gauntlet | [S] Sacrificial Gauntlet [Rod + Glove]: Even following the overall Crit nerf, Jeweled Gauntlet is still strong on AP users, especially paired with a Deathcap. The shadow version of Jeweled Gauntlet is good on Karma following the changes that it underwent. Since it scales off of the Mana pool and Karma only has 10 mana in her perma-casting state, the self-damage she receives is almost negligible. And because she has the Dawnbringer trait, she will generally heal up the higher amounts of damage she takes at the start of the cast, making the Sacrificial Gauntlet’s downsides acceptable.
- [S] Rabadon’s Caustic Deathcap | Rabadon’s Deathcap [Rod + Rod]: High Amounts of AP, pairs very well with a Jeweled Gauntlet.
- [S] Hand of Vengeance | Hand of Justice [Tear + Glove]: Karma utilizes both parts of this item well. Furthermore, this item is an extra Tear, enabling Karma to reach her perma casting state faster.
- [S] Evil Giant Slayer | Giant Slayer [sword + bow]: With 3 star units still fairly common, if you do find yourself with a lot of extra Bows and Swords, you can make Giant Slayer as your last offensive item on Karma.
- Archangel’s Staff [Tear + Rod]: While the scaling damage of this item does not work that well with Karma’s low Mana in her perma-cast state, the extra mana and AP from the item are both beneficial, making it a serviceable last item.
- [S] Fallen Guardian Angel | Guardian Angel [Sword + Chain]: This item is very strong on Garen in the late game and can be used by other frontliners before you find him.
- [S] Gargoyle Stoneplate of Immortality | Gargoyle Stoneplate [Cloak + Chain]: Gives good early game power and utilizes Cloaks and Chains.
- [S] Sacrificial Redemption | Redemption [Cloak + Chain]: The AOE damage reduction of Redemption is very powerful in the late game. In the early game, the heals from redemption are good as well.
- Warmog’s Armor [Belt + Belt]: Gives a large chunk of flat HP. This synergizes well with the percent HP based healing Dawnbringers receive.
- Titan’s Resolve [Bow + Chain]: This item is good on Garen, giving him bonus resistances and damage. While there aren’t many ideal users of this item prior to Garen, it uses undesirable components in Bow and Chain and is a serviceable frontline item.
- ZZrot Portal [Belt + Bow]: The voiding provides a frontline unit, and the item itself uses up a Bow, which is good.
- [S] Mor-evil-lonomicon | Morellonomicon [Rod + Belt]: Garen or Volibear are good users of this item late game, but the components are generally too useful to make this item in the early and mid-game.
- [S] Chalice of Malice | Chalice of Power [Tear + Cloak]: Good use of a Cloak in this composition.
- Zeke’s Herald [Sword + Belt]: If you have an excess of Swords and frontline items, Zeke’s is a decent support item.
These positioning-reliant items should be taken off of later carousels or built from the last components you get after your core carry items are built.
- Zephyr [Tear + Cloak]: Disables the unit mirrored from the holder of the item from the fight for 5 seconds. [ignores QSS].
- Shroud of Stillness [Glove + Chain]: Increases the mana of the first cast by 35% of enemies in a two-hex line from the holder.
- [S] Banshee’s Claw [Belt + Glove]: This item allows your Karma to block one spell. Helpful in the Mirror Matchup or against Heimerdinger compositions.
- Dawnbringer Spat [Spat + Belt]: Allows you to replace a less useful Dawnbringer unit with a more useful one. The spat itself is typically used on Volibear to help guarantee his cast or on Ivern if you do not have Volibear.
- Renewer Spat [Spat + Tear]: This spat is pretty good on Garen and can sometimes enable you to run 4 Renewers with Soraka, Ivern, Heimerdinger.
- [S] Revenant Spat [Spat + Cloak]: This is effectively a GA for a unit on your team, along with buffing the HP Volibear and Ivern respawn with.
Rod > Tear > Belt >>>> Glove > Chain >>>> Sword > Cloak > Bow
Rod, Tear and Belt are all good starts for this comp, with Rod and Tear building directly into core Karma items, while Belt can help build into a variety of frontline itemizations to help in the early and late game.
Glove and Chain are acceptable starts, with Glove being able to build into Karma itemizations and Chain being able to be built into frontline itemization. However, both items tend to be weaker in the early game in comparison to the late, so these Components are less preferred to start with.
Sword, Cloak, and Bow are Components that are not used in Core itemizations to the Comp and do not build into strong early game items for this Composition, so should be avoided if one is looking to play Karma.
Early Game (Stage 1 and 2)
During Stage 1 and 2, you will simply be playing the strongest board you can, preferably using upgraded 1 cost units or 1-star 2/3 cost units to hold your items. You can hold extra Dawnbringer units you find on the bench to use to transition later if they don’t cost you Econ.
Since none of the Dawnbringer Units hold Karma items particularly well, it is important to find a holder and a mini-composition to hold your itemizations. Here are the preferred item holders for Karma. Tank item holders can generally be upgraded units or whichever 2/3 cost frontliners you have on your board.
1 Cost: Lissandra, Ziggs
2 Cost: Brand, Viktor
3 Cost: Katarina, Lee Sin
Here are some Sample Boards for Late stage 2/ Early Stage 3.
[Disclaimer, these are not the only starts but rather the ones I believe are strong/allow for good transitions into Karma]
Assassins Opener w/ Kat:
If you find an early Katarina, this is a very strong transition into Karma, with Katarina holding Karma items extremely well. If you don’t find Katarina, the brawler frontline plus Kha’zix does well at killing a few units in bad matchups and winning fights if positioned well.
This Opener can either run Ziggs or Brand as your item holder, and the frontline is generally flexible. The above version is only an example.
Some other frontlines you can run are upgraded Hellions (With Ziggs), Abomination (With Nunu), Knights, Redeemed Units.
Upgraded Renewers give you a strong opener to work with. You can either play around Coven if you find that early Morgana with Leblanc; otherwise, you can play around Nightbringer units, like Lee Sin and Sejuani, to build up the frontline and provide damage. Finding an early Lee Sin will allow you to stack both tank and carry items on him as well, providing you with a decent early to mid-game carry.
With 2-star Aatrox and Leona, this opener is quite strong.
Note on Redeemed Opener: While the Redeemed opener can hold Karma items quite well, it is easier to play Vel’Koz from the Redeemed opener.
Mid Game (Stage 3 and 4)
Once you reach Level 6 and Level 7, you will likely be looking to simply run more Dawnbringer units in conjunction with the board you built around your item holders in preparation for the transition to Karma.
Level 6 [Stage 3-2]:
Here are some sample boards for lvl 6 (around stage 3-2).
The Extra 2 assassin Slots can commonly be swapped for 4 Brawlers, 4 Dawnbringers, or 3 Forgotten + One synergy unit. The options here are really flexible depending on what you find.
If you can make the pivot into abominations by 3-2, this board is incredibly strong in stage 3; otherwise you can simply run more frontline units as synergies dictate.
With Renewers, if you arrived with Coven, you can simply add any Dawnbringer or any strong unit you find. Otherwise, simply continue running strong units.
Level 7 [Stage 4-1]:
If you Naturalled the boards above or hit them on lvl 6 with decent amounts of HP, you will likely not need to roll much on lvl 7 and can skip this and look to pivot to Karma on level 8. However, if you are low rolled your openers and are low on HP, you can roll down on 4-1 for a basic 6 Dawnbringer Karma board.
If you don’t have Nidalee 2 and Riven 2, you can opt for other defensive units you find on the rolldown as well, such as Rell + Cavalier, 2 Mystic, Mordekaiser + Brawler, or Taric + Knight. If you are low HP, do not overly focus on the 6 Dawnbringers if you cannot find them because you can play other defensive units as well.
Late Game (Stage 5 and beyond)
Level 8 Rolldown: [5-1]
At lvl 8, this will be the Main 6 Dawnbringer Variant build. Gragas, Nunu or Mordekaiser 2 can hold the Garen Items until you find one. If you find a Volibear first, he can hold items as well. If you reach level, you can look to add a Taric for Knights or a Heimerdinger 2. Or look to pivot your board to one with higher value.
However, there are different variations you can play if you have a large amount of money and play better units than the Dawnbringers.
Lvl 9 Variations:
4 Renewer with Heimer:
If you find Heimerdinger itemizations, you can look to play around him as a Late Game Threat. You can also play this at level 8 Minus the Taric or Volibear if you found Heimerdinger before Karma 2.
This board is one of the most capped boards you can build. You can drop two more Dawnbringers to add Rell + Nautilus into AD matchups or Kindred + Lux into AP matchups. You can also run 3 Ironclads, 3 Mystics, or Ironclads plus Mystics and cut 4 invokers if you do not have the HP to buy Teemo.
- Thresh/Katarina: If you see Thresh or Katarina players you can play against, be sure to place a corner unit to block the Thresh hook or eat the Katarina Daggers.
- Other Karmas/Teemo: Look to spread your units out as much as possible so your units have to lowest chance to get dealt AOE damage.
- Vel’Koz: Try to be the same side of Vel’koz players so your Karma does not get burst down by Vel’koz laser. Also, look to place Volibear on the same side of Vel’koz, even if 1 star; you can usually have him alone on that side because AP comps do not usually burst him down before he can ult.
- Assassins: In 6 Dawnbringers, you do not have many tools to deal with Assassin Players. Generally, strong Sin players will beat this composition. In the 1v1 cases, you can look to fully clump in a corner to box the Assassins out.
- Aphelios/Draven: Look to position your Volibear and Garen on the side of their Carries. If your Volibear is 1 star, you will not be able to put him alone into their Carries, though, because he will burst down.
About the Author
Hey, I’m Re;Chaos, a NA player who has played on other servers and has been challenger every set since Set 3.
I love to think about builds and the reasoning behind why and how units/comps became/are strong.
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