Karma has enjoyed an increasing popularity in pre-season. I have been maining Karma since before her first rework and want to share my thoughts on these changes and Karma's current position in LoL.
> # Karma's Benefits from Pre-Season
45% CDR on Karma are awesome. Windwalkers makes her RE really strong.
Deathfire Touch makes her poking and kiting sufficiently painful.
The new Frostqueens finally gives her a good supportive buildpath.
However, the easily available Griveous Wounds hurt her bait-potential, other supports that EITHER heal&shield OR deal damage&kill seem to have profited more from the new buildpaths/masteries, as they can easily get everything they need. Karma needs some of all and can't have it.
Overall, the changes seem to be power-neutral for Karma, but definitely some quality of life changes.
> # Karma's Strengths and Weaknesses
Those stayed roughly the same. But what are they?
Both her biggest strength and weakness is, that she doesn't really have clear strengths or weaknesses.
Because in any area she is good at, she is also bad at:
* High damage, but low kill pressure.
* Good poke, but unreliable.
* Decent kiting, but weak disengage.
* Good chasing, but bad lockdown.
* Hard to kill, but dies easy when CCed.
* As a support, she wants enemies under their tower, but is very vulnerable to ganks.
However, I tried phrasing one main weakness and strength.
Karma can be equally efficiently be played top, mid and support. She can build tanky OR damagy and work well.
So you can fulfill a lot of roles for your team. Mastering her gives you a fallback champ for 3 lanes
Karma has no nieche. She is not easy to play (not good for beginners), but also doesn't have a lot of depth to her kit (not good for pros) or a lot of skills to perfect (outside of hitting her Qs and RQs).
> # Karma and the power creep
Karma is an allrounder. Which means, she can fill a lot of roles to a decent amount, but struggles in direct comparison to anyone in that role.
With the addition of newer and reworked champions, who have clearer and even better defined roles, allrounders suffer from having an increasing amount of champions put in front of them, that can do any of their many roles better.
Additionally, new champions seem to have double-roles anyways.
Most midlaners can go top,
most toplaners can jungle,
and new items allow for some mages/tanks to go support.
Some ADCs go mid these days and some can even jungle (Kindred/Graves).
With the flexibility of the game increasing, being a flexible mage becomes worth less and less.
And as Lulu has become the queen of "utility-mage in all lanes",
and Annie/Brand do the "semi-AP-carry from botlane" job better, Karma doesn't even dominate in some of her more iconic roles.
> # Karma's Identity and Patch 5.10
Riot realized Karma's identity problems and tried to flesh out her strengths and weaknesses in [Patch 5.10](http://www.surrenderat20.net/2015/05/patch-510-notes.html) . And I absolutely HATE what they did.
Because I think that they reduced her strengths and butchered parts of her identity.
We can all agree that most of the changes were either buffs (W and passive) or power shifts (E), but there were also some nerfs, that went without much attention from the community: the removal of **RW** and **RE** damage. And this was HUGE!
Let's take a look at what changed:
||**Old RW**| -> |**New RW**|
| **Root** |1-2s | -> | 1.5-3.25 |
| **Damage** | 120-560 (+120%) | -> | 60-260 (+90%)
This meant a LOT of damage lost for trades, basically what Karma was good at. She excelled at duelling assasins, because she could win them if they stayed in her range for the full 2s.
The new RW only increases your SURVIVAL. To the enemy this means, you gave up on killing him, and they can go even more aggressive.
The additional 0.5-0.75s root in lane don't do a lot. It does not make up for the damage you lose for chosing it over RQ, even in a gank.
||**Old RE**| -> |**New RE**|
|**Main Shield**| 110-390 (+80%) | -> | 110-410 (+80%) |
|**AoE Shield**| 30-150 (+30%) | --> | 55-205 (+40%) |
|**Damage**| 60-300 (+60%) | -> | 0 |
RE used to be Karma's best waveclear. It was also her best teamfighting options, that had a LOT of decision making to it;
Who do you want to shield and who do you want to hurt? What is the best way to BOTH deal damage and shield your allies?
Is it worth to hit their backline by shielding your tank, or is it better to shield your team and let them catch up?
Now you just shield your team if you need it.
Karma's strength is her flexibility. Now that W-RQ is always the best damage option, you are not flexible in HOW you deal your damage anymore. This makes Karma more predictable (Braum/Yasuo walls, yay) and she lost her depth; before 5.10 you had to know when to use what damage option against which champion and you could tell good Karma's from great Karma's by seeing them choose wisely (AoE damage burst [RE]? Gamble on highest damage [RQ]? Single target, but best defense?)
Ever seen a Karma snipe someone with RE? Ever seen a support Karma shield the towerdiving jungler, speed the ADC and damage the enemy at the same time? Those were real tokens of skill and hard to achieve. Now everybody is just spamming RQ.
Also, now that R doesn't guarantee damage, Karma only has **2,33** damage spells, compared to other midlaners, with **3-4** and a damage passive.
This makes for an awkward balancing. Either she does ridiculous damage with the few skills she has, or she falls off drastically.
Currently, she does a bit of both.
As the damage has been removed, and **RE** is now based on the original shield, RW and RE don't really scale with ult levels anymore.
So enhancing your most leveled spell (nearly always **Q**) is usually the best thing. This reduces Karma's flexibility even more.
Lastly; Her new "super root" is actually not that great - compared to other roots, like Morgana's Q for example.
**Dark Binding** deals more damage, is safer/easier to apply and has a shorter cooldown, while rooting for 3s.
Karma can only beat the root at lvl16+ by **0.25**s.
Maybe you can see why I am a bit angry about these changes. Instead of highlighting Karma's strengths (flexibility), they made her decision making worse and simplistic. They cut parts of her identity (shieldbomb) and tried selling her "unique utility" (super root, mega shield) as something, that others wouldn't already do (better).
She was good at dealing damage and offering utility/protection AT THE SAME TIME, and HOW you did this was the interesting part.
Now she either offers sub-par uitility or sub-par damage (even if both has been buffed) and the "how" has become less relevant.
Exactly what gave her depth.
> # FINAL WORDS
Karma has increased in viability and also in winrate in pre-season. Imo she is "balanced" and "fair. I think she is a good pick for anything between Silver and Plat (not newcomers, not pros), but in terms of design, ever since **5.10**, she seems incredibly bland to me.
I don't think Karma needs to be stronger or weaker, she just needs a purpose.
* Upvote if you agree.
* Downvote if you disagree.
* Comment if you can't decide, or wanna add, critisize or debate some points.
Thanks for reading.