IntroductionNOTE: This guide will focus on Sona played as a full or shared creep score AD Carry, while an AD tuned support (who will have almost no creep score) Sona can be very potent and useful, this role will have different build and play priorities, some notes on Support AD Sona will be at the ends of chapters
The first thought of AD Sona for most players is an unviable forced build, compared to things like AD Annie, AD Karthus, but fail to see the synergy behind her spells and building AD. The main ideas behind AD Sona is the 20 AD buff, synergy with triforce, speed buff and heals for supporting your carrying, and using your stun and purple power chord to ensure dps. This guide focuses on maximum burst potential early game, so you can be a proper semi-carry your early game
Rationale for picking Sona as an AD carryFirst we'll compare AD Sona to a high AP build. AP scales your Q by .7 damage, your heal .25, and your ult .8. When you really look at how your skills work, your passive skill, and your ultimate will scale off AD. Your passive gains 0 damage from AP, while it requires an auto-attack to complete, AD is the only way to increase its damage. Your ultimate gains .8 AP damage, while during its duration you will have free 2 auto-attacks during a fight, giving it an effective 2:1 ad ratio when used offensively. When you look at AP's ratios and where they headed after nerfs, the viability is just not there and different options surpass stacking AP. Also for Q, it's a bit more tricky since Q and autoattack range are different, but if you manage to attack and Q in a lane, your scaling will be better with the AD. For instance take a good AD Sona item such as Stark's Fervor. Besides handing out free lifesteal, when you look at only the ignorable 30 HP/5 stat, this will translate to 120 AP in heals if you were to invest it that way, while the attack speed will give you much better damage potential and the aura will make you a much better support to your team.
Next we'll compare Sona to different AD carries. Sona is an atypical carry as she has alot of burst and power early game but has the glaring flaw of lackluster attack speed growth. These are some values for some common AD Carries.
Ashe 0.658 (+3.34%)
Caitlyn 0.668 (+3.0%)
Corki 0.658 (+2.3%)
Sona 0.644 (+2.3%)
Sona's attack speed is comparable to other early game Triforce AD carries such as Ezreal and Corki, while bringing much support to the team. The goal of Sona is to capitalize on early game power as a semi-carry to gain an advantage over the other teams carry, while providing much more support to make a well rounded team. A very good option on Sona is Sword of the Occult, which I consider viable even in competitive games for this build. This will give you the scaling to compete with other carries late game, and synergizes extremely well with Sona, because of your assist gathering and strong early game. In a teamfight, every kill your team gets will give you a stack, since your buffs will provide assists very easily, and these assists will provide more money to you in order to carry.
Sona in the metagame and when to pick herSona is the only self healing carry in the game (besides Kayle lol). The free AD, armor, and sheen procs will make Sona a very durable laner which will win trades. The healing will allow your team to choose a wider variety of support champions you wouldn't normally see with a typical carry. Support Leona, Gangplank, Lux, Blitzcrank will all become much more viable, as well as many other supports you may think of. This is especially true for support Janna, who fell out of favor as #1 support because of the lack of sustain, but now that you decided to get serious about your AD carry, a Sona/Janna lane is extremely powerful. The best way of fitting Sona into a team comp is that realizing shes a carry/support. If you get into a full farming war with a full carry and your team depends on Sona as the main source of damage things will not go well. You'll be able to carry fine but you need to complement your buffs with other players who can also deal damage, having 1 effective AD character in the jungle or top lane will make your auras more effective.
MasteriesMany masteries will help out Sona and it all comes down to preference, but I prefer 21/9/0, lots of masteries in the offense tree will help your carrying and the 9 points in defense is extremely helpful for dueling. This mastery set is chosen for the best for burst potential when you pair it with ignite.
Another viable build is 0/9/21, the utility tree gives many needed stats such as movespeed, mana regen, cooldowns, etc. The utility tree is very viable and can be picked when you want a mobile carry. Taking this tree is looking towards later game rather than early game terror.
For Support AD Sona, you will take 21 in an utility tree especially for the mana regen and improved clairvoyance
Quints: Flat AD quints are the best, this will make you true terror during the first few levels and help you with last hitting creeps
Armor Pen is also viable
Reds: Armor Pen
Yellows: Flat armor is extremely useful for bottom lane and for overall dueling, defensive stats increase the effectiveness of your heals and you want to capitalize on it
Mana Regen/lv, this will make you more frail during the laning phase but it provides some flexibility of using spells during the game
Blues: magic resist/lv runes are my favorite because you won't be bursted from magic until mid game and you usually see mostly physical damage early game anyways. Either magic resist rune is my preference because it increases your effective heals on yourself
Flat magic resist runes are a good choice too, especially if you want to go mid
Mana Regen/lv runes are also acceptable in the blue spot
These are the typical summoners you want on Sona which will provide you with early game burst. Ignite also gives you 10 AP which comes very nice for your spells and healing early game.
Other potential summoners:
Always a very nice spell which will help you kite and win duels as an AD carry
Sona draws alot of attention from opponents and likes to get focused, going offense masteries and putting little points in your speed boost will make you very slow, making ghost a very viable choice for maneuvering.
A must if you want to take Support AD Sona into a competitive game (though ignite is still fun for pubstomping), or when you want to lane with someone who will take your cs. I do NOT recommend this if you're playing carry, as someone else should take it as you try to protect yourself.
Passive: Power Chord
After casting 3 spells, Sona's next attack deals 14 damage + 9 x lvl in bonus magic and a bonus effect depending on Sona's last song played.
Additionally, Sona's Auras persist for 3 seconds after deactivating and set off a 2 second global cooldown.
This does ridiculous damage early game and thoughout, it makes your early game burst as lethal as it is, and your trades in lane always to your favor. To be a good Sona player, you always need to keep track of when you're 2 stacks or full stacks on power chord, and when you will get the desired version
BLUE: This is great for early game damage and early one hit KO's
GREEN: This is very situational, you might be able to use it effectively on an enemy hypercarry lategame
PURPLE: This is your workhorse version, a slow will help you attack enemies, save allys, whatever you need, learn to pull it off whenever you need it
Q: Hymn of Valor
Persistent Aura: Sona plays the Hymn of Valor, increasing nearby allied champions Damage and Ability Power by 8/11/14/17/20.
Activation: Sona fires bolts of sound, dealing 50/100/150/200/250 (+70% ability power) magic damage to the nearest two enemies (prioritizes champions).
Power Chord - Stacatto: Deals double power chord damage
Cost 65 Mana
We will be maxing this first for a few reasons. The aura is superb in stats and one of the main reasons for the build, the +20 damage is great for yourself, and great for everyone else on your team.
The nuke is very powerful and used for early and mid game burst and winning trades in lane, the damage is comparable to most AD carries' poking skills and its very easy to use.
W: Aria of Perseverance
Persistent Aura: Sona plays the Aria of Perseverance, increasing nearby allied champions Armor and Magic Resist by 8/11/14/17/20.
Activation: Sona sends out healing melodies, healing Sona and the most wounded nearby allied champion by 40/60/80/100/120 (+25% ability power). Grants double her passive aura bonus to her heal target and herself for 3 seconds
Power Chord - Diminuendo: Debuffs the target to deal 20% less damage for 4 seconds
Cost 65 Mana
This will be maxed second because the sustain is incredibly useful in lane, and throughout the game, and a main reason to choose Sona over other carries. The armor aura is not to be scoffed at, early game you will be one of the tankiest champions in the game, especially paired with defensive runes
E: Song of Celerity
Persistent Aura: Sona plays the Song of Celerity, granting nearby allied champions 8/11/14/17/20 bonus Movement Speed.
Activation: Sona energizes nearby allies, granting them 6/8/10/12/14% Movement Speed for 1.5 seconds.
Power Chord - Tempo: Slows the target by 40% for 2 seconds
Cost 65 Mana
I choose to only get the first point at lv 5 or 8, depending on when you need it. Although the speed boost is useful, I tend to prioritize the heal to win fights rather than this. You want the first point since it will give you general map mobility and access to your purple power chord.
Sona plays her ultimate chord, forcing enemy champions in a line in front of her to dance, taking 150/250/350 (+80% ability power) magic damage over 1.5 seconds.
Cost 140/120/100 Mana
This is one of the best ults there exists on a carry, aoe ults are very nice to have. At lv 6 this will help you one hit KO champs in your lane, or help you throughout the game when you get ganked by any number of champions.
Our usual starting item is . I built my rune page for early game harass and sustain through strength of spirit and armor. However, although Sona has sustain, starting with Doran's blade is very unforgiving and you can't afford to take much damage, + should be taken against tough lanes.
Another option is to build up a instead of buying a , this will make you the ultimate sustain character, but give you less burst damage and make you more suspectable to burst.
Early game I like to rush then . The sheen makes you monsterous when you trade damage with other carries, and the stats on sheen gives you AP and mana exactly when you need it, to strengthen your heals and nuke while you lane.
After this I usually get a . Sona players should not be afraid to build stacks, even in competitive games. The mechanics of your spells will ensure you get a stack for every kill in a teamfight from assists, and they will rack up very rapidly. I like to take this even when my team is slightly losing, since you can gather stacks while in teamfights. The only time you should avoid this item is when your team has a chance of getting NO kills whatsover, which then you can move on to the losing build shown later. You should also sometimes avoid stacks in extremely passive games, which then I would recommend after your Triforce.
For boots I usually buy because she is starved for attack speed, but is sometimes necessary.
Another great option to replace is . It's a good item to buy if you're getting used to the build since you are able to spam skills freely and rely less on stacks. The argument for buying this is the same as any Ezreal or Corki player, you will be less of a powerhouse through your mid game, but without Manamune your skill usage will feel very drained.
Recovering a bad mid-game:
Having a losing build is a very nice sideaffect of playing Sona. The good thing about Sona is that she is inherently a support, which makes Sona a VERY forgiving champion. This doesn't happen often but if you happen to be something like 0-8 by midgame (which is difficult with your great early game!), you have a chance to still contribute to the team unlike a regular carry. At this point when you realize the game is out of your control, you can switch to a support AD Sona build, where you prioritize survivability and cooldown reduction over damage and attack speed. This is also a safety net if you buy Sword of the Occult, because if you end up losing with no stacks, you can "lay low" as a support for awhile with items such as or / as you attempt to gather stacks. Or if you're before that point you can rely on sheen for damage and buy support items such as or or .
Next, you want to finish as soon as possible, since it's an incredibly useful item on Sona, the item which the build revolves around. After your early game items I would buy and then to finish off your Trinity Force. Around this point I sometimes like to pick up an elixir to match the strength of a traditional carry, usually if you are doing well since it gives you modifiers for your AD stacks, or a to help you not die if you're not doing as well. After this you want to get an attack speed item as Sona attack speed is pretty slow at this point. is a very good item for what you need as it gives you the speed, some lifesteal, penetration, and the aura is great for being in a carry/support role. Other items you might want to grab is if you're still missing damage or if you skipped sword of the occult/manamune, as it gives you an array of stats you're missing: attackspeed, damage, and penetration. is sometimes a good item to pick up if you're pretty much the star of the game and want to keep dominating.
After this you will probably want to pick up survivability since you're very suspectable to being focused at this point. is a good pickup at this point, especially as a stack item user, as you will be hard to focus and gain armors for your healing through stark's and heals. Another good option is , as the stats are good against surviving against AP burst, and the mana is always welcome for more flexibility with your spells.
For Support AD Sona, while I don't have a concrete build at the moment, you will want to pick up stats such as Gold/10, Cooldown Reduction, and Mana/Mana Regen, rather than attack speed and late game damage so you can support your team with map control and skills. You will be using your strong early game as AD, and be following a typical support build after laning.
Early GameEarly game you will have great harass and survivability so use it to your advantage! At the beginning of the game you want to charge power chord to 2 so you can activate it via Q whenever you want. The moment a champion steps in your range they should take a Q and an autoattack, and maybe a power chord. During your laning phase you should try to keep your skill rotations as heal heal for 1st and 2nd chord, and nuke for your third, so you can blue power chord the enemy. When you get to level 6 you become a huge threat and become difficult to gank because of your ult. A combo of Q, ignite, ult, autoattacks, power chord (preferably blue), and sheen will do an immense about of damage and can easily kill.
Mid GameMid game Sona is still a powerhouse because of your aura buffs, however if you buy a sword of the occult, you will be watering yourself down during this phase in order to carry into late game, but you should still be able to dominate fights. What you have to remember is depending on your build, you can't empty your mana bar to heal everyone to full or spam speed buffs or you will be vulnerable in the field, you're giving up mana for destructive power as a carry, you will have to be frugal with spells unless you opt for Manamune, Philosopher's Stone or Mana Regen/lv runes, or get a blue buff through a kill or your team. This means if you did not buy any way of recovering mana, you should not be spamming your speed buff during non-vital times, and farming through your autoattacks instead of your Q, which is easy with the increased AD. If you want to be more spammy with spells you may opt for the Manamune, Philosopher's Stone or Mana Regen/lv runes.
Sona is very greedy about Red and Blue buffs, but you can live without them. You will probably want to give up the blue for your AP carry, but having it on you is a high priority as it puts your team in a great position, unlimited heals from your AD carry, and the cooldowns will give you more triforce procs and support ability.
At this point in the game your you will be a squishier carry so kiting becomes important, learn to use purple power chord and your ultimate to kite enemies.
Late GameIn this phase you will want to continue to have perfect positioning, as carry Sona has one of the highest aggro from opponents in the game. Having a stack item if you chose to buy it, high damage, having heals, and appearing fragile will all contribute to people wanting to nuke you down, so you want to stay safe.
DominionAD Sona might be plain OP in dominion, you can always find yourself getting a high ranking in it. Early game you will want to head for the windmill for sure, to be a main damage dealer in fights and have your auras and heals for support. Early game you will be very strong in fights and late game you're still comparable to most people. The way dominion helps Sona play AD is that you have almost no mana problems with just a sheen, so you make constant use of your mana bar while most characters will only use mana for fighting. For dominion you can focus more on damage than survivability so you can build some cool end game items and don't have to worry as much about being focused by 5 people at once.
The core build is starting sheen and then buying prospector's blade, berserkers greaves, and triforce.
The rest of the build depends on the enemy. After the core build I like to get like ionic spark and atmas against AD, hexdrinker against AP, maybe odins atmas phantom dancer against mixed (great when you're losing), last whisperer against Rammus and armor stackers.
Atmas is real strong in dominion because of all the AD running around and it'll help you flat out win duels.