Author: MMOsite Writer Alexander Hinkley
Bard, the Wandering Caretaker is the newest champion to be released as part of the League of Legends 5.5 patch. Bard is a celestial with an in-game playstyle unlike any other champion. Known by many names throughout history including “Cosmic Vagabond” and “Great Caretaker,” his primary role is classified as a roaming support. Riot Games has been releasing some particularly distinctive champions lately such as Kalista, Rek’Sai, and now Bard. Bard was tailor-made specifically for Summoner’s Rift and is not really viable on game modes like Dominion or Howling Abyss because he lacks the damage necessary to make an impact on short, fast-paced game modes. On the other hand, he’s very impactful on Summoner’s Rift!
Bard has two passives. The first is called Ancient Chimes. Ancient Chimes is a big reason Bard is so unique. As you play a match, collectible chimes will appear randomly around the map. If Bard collects these chimes, he receives a temporary movement speed burst, some experience, and has a little bit of his mana restored. For every five chimes he collects, his Meeps passive levels up.
Meeps is the other half of Bard’s passive. Meeps are small little spirit creatures that will follow Bard around. Whenever Bard basic attacks an enemy unit, one of his Meeps will throw itself at the unit as well dealing bonus magic damage which scales with Bard’s ability power and can later slow the target and deal area of effect damage once leveled up by collecting a certain number of chimes. The more chimes Bard collects, the greater the damage of the Meeps as well.
While Meeps is a flavorful ability, it sounds a lot stronger than it is. Bard isn’t a Marksman so you’re not going to be basic attacking enemy champions a whole lot. The slowing effect from leveled up Meeps is generally the biggest benefit you’ll get from this since you can slow down your opponents while an ally wrecks them. The extra bonus damage is just some gravy.
Bard’s Q ability is called Cosmic Binding. This is his only damage dealing spell, other than the bonus damage from Meep-empowered basic attacks. Cosmic Binding is a skill shot and doesn’t actually deal a whole lot of damage because it only scales with 50% of his ability power. Hitting an enemy with Cosmic Binding will slow them by 60% for roughly one to two seconds. The utility in Cosmic Binding is that it actually goes through the first unit struck and can hit a second unit. If you do hit two units with Cosmic Binding, instead of slowing them it will stun them both. Stunning two enemy champions for almost two seconds can obviously be very useful. Cosmic Binding can also be used to stun an enemy champion who is hiding behind a minion wave. The spell will go through the first minion and strike the champion, stunning him. Additionally, Cosmic Binding will also stun the enemy if it goes through him and then hits a wall. This functionality makes it couple nicely with his Magical Journey ability (I’ll talk more about that in that spell’s section).
Some people advocate starting the game with Caretaker’s Shrine but I believe Cosmic Binding can be more helpful at the very beginning and believe you should take a point in this ability first.
Bard’s W spell is called Caretaker's Shrine. This is a healing ability where Bard can place a health pack on the map for allies to collect. How cool is that? The health packs don’t go away until collected but can be destroyed by an enemy champion that walks over them. Bard can only have three health packs out at a time.
The healing effect of these health packs increases over time so it’s always a good idea to place them in an area where an ally can retreat back to if needed such as behind your lane’s turret. If you place them on the front lines you risk having an ally walk over them when they don’t mean to or an opponent destroying them. In addition to healing an ally, the health packs also give a slight movement speed boost when collected. It should also be noted that Caretaker’s Shrine can be cast directly on an ally for a quick heal so if a teammate is about to get murdered Bard can save them. The movement speed boost will also help get them out of danger. Unfortunately, Caretaker’s Shrine health packs don’t restore mana like normal health packs found on maps do.
As previously mentioned, many builds advocate taking Caretaker’s Shrine first. I disagree with this and would recommend taking Cosmic Binding first but the choice is up to you. Whether you take Cosmic Binding or Caretaker’s Shrine first, definitely take the other one second and max out Caretaker’s Shrine the first of all three abilities. Constantly healing your teammates with health packs will really help to push your lane and you want the healing effect to be as strong as possible.
Bard’s E is Magical Journey. This spell is crazy. Because Bard can “travel through realms beyond the imagination of mortal beings,” he can literally move through any wall on the map by opening a magical portal and then traveling through it. Other champions can also travel through this portal – both allied and enemy to the other side. Magical Journey can even go through thick walls that you normally couldn’t flash through. The possibilities with this ability are numerous and make Bard really fun to play as. It can be used to appear in an unexpected area to gank a lane or it can be used to help get away from an enemy chasing you.
As mentioned previously, enemy champions CAN also use the corridor so you might be wondering how it can be used to escape if they can just hop in and take a Magical Journey of their own? The answer is two-fold. First of all, Bard and allied champions move through the corridor faster than enemies. Their journey speed further increases each time you level up the ability. Secondly, Magical Journey pairs with Cosmic Binding’s wall stun functionality. Bard can go on a Magical Journey and if an enemy champion follows him through the corridor, Bard can simply wait on the other side for the enemy champion to pop out and when he does, throw a Cosmic Binding at him. If timed correctly it will hit the champion and the wall he just journeyed through, stunning him and allowing you and your teammates to get away (or kill the chaser).
Learn Magical Journey third and then level it up last.
Bard’s ultimate ability is Tempered Fate. Tempered Fate is a long range area of effect spell in which Bard lobs some magical energy to a target location. Any and all units hit by this energy – be them allied, enemy, or neutral – are put into a 2.5 second stasis. The stasis even affects buildings such as turrets (except the Nexus). Tempered Fate stasis is the same as the stasis from Zhonya's Hourglass. Units in stasis can’t move, can’t cast, and can’t be hurt. So they can’t do anything, but are also invulnerable.
Like most of Bard’s abilities, Tempered Fate has a variety of uses. For example, it can be used to save allies who are about to die by putting them into stasis at the right moment. Or, it can be used to freeze enemy champions, allowing your allies to catch up to them and pick them off once stasis wears off. Stasis can be used to turn the tides of team fights by freezing a few enemy champions and leaving the remaining ones to fend for themselves against the rest of your team (if aimed properly). Then when the frozen enemies come out of stasis, they get picked off as well. If you can aim the ability just right, you’d effectively be halving the enemy team. You can turn a 5v5 into a 5v2 and then a 5v3 a few seconds later. That’s powerful!
As you can see from his abilities, Bard doesn’t deal much damage so it’s kind of pointless to strictly build ability power items. Bard is a support champion so you should build him with as many supporting items as you can. Three items found on almost all Bard builds are Locket of the Iron Solari, Frozen Heart, and Mikael's Crucible.
After those three items you’ll want to finish your kit based on the situation. Against an AD-heavy team you should consider buying an Iceborn Gauntlet for the extra armor and slowing effect. Against an AP-heavy team, a Banshee’s Veil is always useful.
Bard is considered a roaming support because he periodically has to leave lane in order to run around and collect his chimes. Therefore, Boots of Mobility are probably the best type of footwear for him.
As for masteries, put most of your points into the Utility tree so that you can maximize your mana regeneration, movement speed, and passive gold production. Take a few points in the defensive tree to beef up your health and health regeneration though to offset low base stats in these categories. Don’t worry about the offensive tree.
Bard is strictly a support champion so you’ll measure your success as him in assists, rather than kills. In fact, if you’re getting kills as Bard you probably aren’t doing your job properly since you are taking away valuable gold from your lanemate.
Plop down Caretaker’s Shrines as often as possible to keep your teammates healed. Put them in places that they are safe from destruction but easily accessible. Be sure to warn your lanemate when you are leaving lane to go collect chimes. Although chimes do appear throughout the map most of them will be close to where Bard is so don’t stray too far from lane. When you do go out to collect chimes, this presents a good opportunity to gank upon your return. Use Magical Journey to come back into your lane behind or right up next to an enemy. Magical Journey can be used to surprise an enemy from an area of the map they don’t usually ward so you should be able to take them by surprise. This is best accomplished by signaling your jungler to come with you since you’ll need the extra damage to make it an effective gank.
Bard may look big and durable but he actually is not a tank. He does have a relatively high base armor rating but that is offset with one of the lowest health regeneration stats in the game. His base total health is also near the bottom of the list, on par with Marksman champions like Graves and Quinn. In other words, he is surprisingly squishy for his size. Keep that in mind.
Like other utility champions, Bard can be pretty frustrating if you’re on a team with bad allies. You’re only really as good as your teammates when playing a utility champ. Like the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. In League of Legends, you can make it easier for your teammates to get kills but it’s up to them to finish the job. Unlike other utility champions, however, Bard can’t really take matters into his own hands. He only has one damage-dealing spell while other champions like Nami, Lulu, and even Soraka have multiple.
If you’re a Dominion or Howling Abyss player, you’ll probably want to skip on unlocking Bard. He’s very useful on Summoner’s Rift, though and it will be interesting to see what kind of tactics Bard players come up with as people get used to playing him over the next few weeks.