Bard is one of the more interesting champions in League of Legends. With a strange design and complicated, interstellar lore, Bard boasts hidden power that makes him one of the most fearsome creatures in Runeterra.
The Wandering Caretaker is most commonly seen in the support role where his unique playstyle stands out among all other support champions. Unlike the tanks and enchanters that dominate the bot lane, Bard has access to multiple different build paths, completely customizable to the player’s choosing. Bard is even incentivized to leave lane and roam as often as he can to collect his Chimes, which in turn power up his auto attacks and make him an oppressive lane bully.
These features make Bard a powerful pick regardless of the meta. Yet with so many item options at his disposal, as well as a kit that can make-or-break fights, he is one of the more challenging champions to master.
Here is the best overall build for Bard in League, many pieces of which can be swapped out for others.
Best runes for Bard
Guardian: Currently, Bard is performing well in the support role with Guardian. This keystone mitigates the damage that he and a nearby ally would take every 70-40 seconds, allowing both players to continue poking their enemies freely. The high cooldown of this keystone makes it important to ensure its being used at the most opportune times, and not accidentally.
Font of Life: As Bard collects more Chimes from around the map, his basic attacks will slow enemies in a cone. This, alongside the slow/stun from his Q, will proc Font of Life for his allies and give them a bit of healing.
Bone Plating: While Bard will get access to items that increase his armor and magic resist, he is very susceptible to damage in the early game. Bone Plating helps to mitigate some of this damage, yet players will still take a fair amount of damage from being aggressive.
Unflinching: Thanks to the multitude of champions in the support role that have access to some form of crowd control, it is imperative that Bard brings Unflinching. This extra tenacity and slow resist will not only help him in lane, but also allow him to retain his high speed as he soars around the map freely, unphased by any incoming damage.
Zombie Ward: Bard’s incredible roaming potential allows him to spot and take down wads around the map with ease. Taking Zombie Ward turns these enemy wards into one-health stealth wards, giving him priority in vision where enemies thought they may have the upper hand.
Relentless Hunter: It goes without saying that Bard’s movement speed is one of the most important parts of what makes him a great roaming support. He’ll be rewarded with more upon taking down enemies should he have Relentless Hunter, as well as gain more out of combat.
Bonuses: +10-percent attack speed, +9 adaptive force, +6 armor
Best starting items for Bard
Relic Shield/Spellthief’s Edge: Both of these support items, while having different effects, are great starts for Bard. If players are laning against a tank support, Spellthief’s Edge may be easier to proc. Should players want to be more oppressive in the early game, Relic Shield will help to take down minions quicker. Both items will evolve into versions that give Bard wards upon acquiring a certain amount of gold and can be replenished every time he goes back to the fountain.
Health Potions: Bard does not have the stats that he needs to survive poke in lane. Even his W, which places down a health shrine for you or allies to pick up, uses a significant amount of mana with a long cooldown. Therefore Bard should prioritize health potions until he is in a state where he can roam around without contention.
Stealth Ward: Between Bard’s movement speed, the bursts of speed from picking up Chimes, and his E, he has quite a bit to work with in regards to mobility. The best Bard players will prioritize warding in the enemy jungle, then getting out safely with the use of his E.
Best core items for Bard
Shurelya’s Battlesong/Imperial Mandate/Locket of the Iron Solari: Shurelya’s Battlesong will give Bard and his allies a significant movement speed boost, which can be the difference in enemies getting away from fights unscathed or not. Imperial Mandate takes advantage of the many slows Bard has in his kit and provides his allies with extra damage for attacking slowed enemies. Meanwhile Locket gives Bard and his allies a large shield, which boosts his otherwise-lacking potential to directly help those around him. Players should consider the best Mythic option for the situation, though once one sticks, it may become part of your primary build.
Chemtech Putrifier: Grievous Wounds may have been nerfed with the recent durability changes, but healing in League is still at an all-time high. Therefore an early Oblivion Orb, later into a completed Chemtech Putrifer, is essential for Bard to whittle down enemies.
Dead Man’s Plate: This is where Bard’s interesting build paths come into play. Bard wants to be fast to roam around the Rift with ease. Building Dead Man’s Plate, an item normally reserved for tanks, gives him a considerable movement speed boost, some much-needed defenses, and an empowered basic attack after moving around a bit. This empowered attack stacks with Bard’s Chimes, meaning he can deal a considerable amount of damage with just one right click.
Boots of Swiftness/Mobility Boots: Both of these boot options boost Bard’s speed more than normal boots. For more roaming-centric Bard players, Mobility Boots give Bard the potential to go from bot lane to top lane in under a minute. Boots of Swiftness work with the Unflinching rune to reduce slowing effects on Bard.
Best late-game items for Bard
Rapid Firecannon: Bard’s strange build grows with the addition of Rapid Firecannon. This item pairs very nicely with the amount of Chimes that Bard should have collected upon completing it, allowing him to more quickly throw his Meeps at enemies and deal a surprising amount of damage. It will also increase Bard’s range, keeping him out of direct contact with most champions.
Redemption: Bard’s healing is tied into his W, which heals allies for a small amount when used directly. Should they wait for the shrine to fully form, the healing will be increased slightly, yet it still isn’t too much. Redemption allows Bard to heal all of his allies in a set area, though it has a rather long cooldown.
Optional—other tank items: Some Bard players prefer to build as tanky as they can get, surprising their foes with large amounts of armor and magic rests akin to that of a traditional tank. Items like Anathema’s Chains, Frozen Heart, Spirit Visage, and Force of Nature are great options if players want to become a pseudo-tank either due to the lack of one on the team, or due to the playstyle preference.