So, one night after playing Veigar to death, I was thinking, "You know what? I'd like to do something different. I'll start learning a support character." After sifting through the current roster of available heroes, a couple stood out to me for their unique supporting qualities. I chose Sona, because she's pretty hot, and like me she knows a thing or two about music. Y'know, the same reasons you'd date someone.
After saving up the 3150 IP, I was in for a suprise - Sona is probably one of the most powerful support characters in the game if you play her properly. "How do I do that?" you might be asking. Well, that's what this guide is for.
There are many means of playing Sona well, not just the way outlined in this guide. Thus, if you have additional notes about Sona, or other builds that tend to work, please feel free to reply with your ideas, disagreements, or alternatives. That being said, let's get started.
Sona is a Ranged-Support hero whose moves are powered by a unique musical instrument. She's technically a "mage-type" hero, therefore she has low HP, move speed, and attack damage, but gets good mileage out of her unique lineup of spells.
Spells and Abilities
The following are Sona's spell and ability list.
Personal Mechanic: Power Chords
Batteries not required. [/cheesy joke.]
Every songcast from Sona gives her a stack of the "Power Chord" buff. When this stack reaches 3, depending on the aura she has active, her next normal attack does ( 14 + 9 * CharLevel ) additional magic damage and causes an extra effect.
Notes: This mechanic makes Sona HAVE to pay attention to her rotation and autoattacks. If you autoattack after your third song, and don't select the right target, you're throwing away a powerchord that could save a buddy a trip to the respawn pool. I strongly suggest learning this aspect of Sona in no less than 10 easy bot games, and quite a few intermediate bot games.
Hymn of Valor - 65 Mana
Sona performs the Hymn of Valor, dealing magical damage to two nearby targets in a radius of about 2.5 inches in any direction. Champions have a higher priority than minions. Additionally, this spell raises the Hymn of Valor aura, which increases the physical and magical damage of nearby allied heroes.
Power Chord: When this aura is active with the Power Chord buff, your next attack deals double damage. Good for last-hitting those pesky minions, or even dealing a nice bit of damage to enemy champions.
Notes: This spell has a blue aura. A good tactical use of this spell is to damage some minions or champions, then cast Aria of Perseverance immediately afterwards, to improve the amount of the heal. This spell is the spell of choice if you're assisting other champions in downing structures or powerful mobs like Baron Nashor.
Aria of Perseverance - 65 Mana
Sona performs the Aria of Perseverance, which heals the most seriously-wounded nearby allied champion in a radius of about 4 inches in any direction. Additionally, this spell raises the Aria of Perseverance aura, which increases the armor and magic resistance of nearby allied heroes.
Power Chord: When this aura is active with the Power Chord buff, your next attack causes the enemy to deal 40% less damage on their next attack. Those high-damage enemies like Garen and Yi don't like getting smacked with this power chord...
Notes: This spell has a green aura. Aria is Sona's bread-and-butter spell, which I recommend taking first. At first the effect is quite small, but the heal scales with Spell Power, and later ranks improve the defensive aura's effect. If you notice your teammates in trouble, try to keep this up to help ensure their survival. A good idea is to follow up with Crescendo's stun/DoT effect, to also give your allies time to escape.
Song of Celerity - 65 Mana
Sona performs the Song of Celerity, which increases the movement speed of the two nearest heroes by 11 for 1.5seconds. Additionally, this spell raises the Song of Celerity aura, which increases the movespeed of nearby allies.
Power Chord: When this aura is active with the Power Chord buff, your next attack causes the enemy to have 30% reduced movement speed. This is good for chasing down wounded enemy champions so those buddies you brought along can send them back to the respawning pool.[/i]
Notes: This spell has a purple aura. Celerity is a good spell to cast if you don't take Teleport as a Summoner spell, or if you're on the run from a nasty hero who eats you like Cho'Gath or Trundle. Additionally, after unleashing an Aria, this can help you and allies escape to safer locales to make a second stand.
Finally, you can use Song to better swap lanes, allowing you to support more allies, which is always a good thing. The tactical uses of this particular aura are perhaps more limited compared to the other moves in Sona's repertoire, but still quite useful.
Crescendo - 110 Mana
Sona performs her ultimate song, which forces enemy champions to dance while dealing heavy damage over 3 seconds.
Notes: This is Sona's only ability not associated with an Aura or Power Chord. This ability also has a long cooldown, which means it needs to be used strategically. Extracting allies from a bad situation is good, but paralyzing enemies near a turret, or near the twin Nexus turrets during a desperate defensive fight are also good ideas. I do agree with the Champion description on one point with this skill - save it for the game-changing time, where you need a strategic stun. Also, though the damage over time scales with spell power, beware of the relatively short range - I don't recommend considering using this skill until you have a pair of movement-enhancing shoes, like Mercury Treads.
Suggested Skill Roll-out:
Lv.1 - Aria of Perseverance
Lv.2 - Hymn of Valor
Lv.3 - Song of Celerity
Lv.4 - Aria of Perseverance
Lv.5 - Aria of Perseverance
Lv.6 - Crescendo
Lv.7 - Hymn of Valor
Lv.8 - Song of Celerity
Lv.9 - Aria of Perseverance
Lv.10 - Hymn of Valor
Lv.11 - Song of Celerity
Lv.12 - Crescendo
Lv.13 - Aria of Perseverance (FINAL)
Lv.14 - Hymn of Valor
Lv.15 - Song of Celerity
Lv.16 - Hymn of Valor (FINAL)
Lv.17 - Crescendo (FINAL)
Lv.18 - Song of Celerity (FINAL)
This rollout is highly dependent on your strategic situation, as Sona is a support character. If you deviate from this in response to what the enemy is trying to do to your buddies, you should still be fine. Don't sweat the order you obtain skills in, so long as you take Perseverance first.
Because Sona is a slow, magically-oriented support hero, I suggest the following priority on stats, with a sampling of effective items:
1: MP5 (Chalice of Harmony, Archmage Staff, Doran's Ring)
2: Spell Power (Deathfire Grasp, Rod of Ages, Fiendish Codex)
3: GP5 (Ryze's Lucky Pick, Philosopher's Stone)
With the optional stats:
1: Movespeed (Mercury Treads, Boots of Swiftness)
2: HP (Rod of Ages, Soul Shroud)
3: MP (Tear of the Goddess, Archmage Staff)
MP5 allows Sona to stay in the field longer, healing allies and swapping out Auras more. MP5 is particularly useful because all of Sona's abilities except Crescendo cost 65 Mana. When you have about 33 to 40 MP5, you should shift priority to other stats.
Spell Power improves nearly all aspects of Sona. Fortunately, a good many items that give MP5 give spellpower, so you shouldn't really find yourself lacking in this arena. You can't have enough spellpower, as you want to keep your allies in good repair. The only reason this makes second on the list is because Sona has naturally low Mana; MP5 is more immediately a help to Sona, though spellpower will almost certainly win you games.
GP5 is one that might suprise people, but with Sona it's absolutely necessary. When you play Sona, you are not Mordekaiser, with his armor and bignormous mace; you are not Garen with his armor and hugenormous sword. You are a cute, busty girl with a full-auto autoharp. As such, you will probably not wind up causing too many deaths, though you should end games with a generous amount of assists. Thus, GP5 is going to be the main way of supporting your item needs, while doing what a good healer does - keeping a good distance from the frontlines, while being close enough to help teammates in need.
For the "optional stats", movespeed is a must for Sona - she's slow, even with Song of Celerity, and you will get in jams - when the enemy sees your portrait on the load screen, you will have a big bullseye on your back. You need to be able to beat quick retreats.
Thus, the core item build I tend to work with:
1: Doran's Ring OR Amplifying Tome.
Doran's Ring is a good, balanced option. Amplifying Tome, on the other hand, can lead to Fiendish Codex or Ryze's Lucky Pick if you need those sustainment bonuses.
2: Ryze's Lucky Pick OR Philosopher's Stone.
By this point, you'll be about Lv.2-Lv.3, and will have returned to your base, hopefully with about 900-1000G on your person, and an assist or two under your belt. If you're following the guide as you go, you'll see what I said about Sona not being a hard-hitter to be true - you'll have disproportionately few last hits on minions, let alone enemy champions. Ryze's gives a nice 25 Spell Power, and is part of the Archmage Staff, along with the GP5 bonus. Philosopher's Stone is a useful tool if you see yourself needing less power and more survivability/field regeneration. Further, Philosopher's can be upgraded to Shurelya's Reverie, which gives a nice +330 HP, passive cooldown reduction, AND an activated temporary sprint aura.
3: Mercury's Treads OR Boots of Swiftness
This is a situational decision. If you're facing champions like Cho'Gath and Taric (or worse, both at the same time), you'll probably want Mercury Treads not only for the movespeed, but the Tenacity and magical resistance. If you don't have to worry about stuns, and more about pre-emptively making expeditious retreats, I suggest Swiftness, with Song of Celerity layered on that. You'll be amazed how quickly Sona can escape nasty situations with THAT setup.
4: Chalice of Harmony OR Tear of the Goddess
Both are useful at this juncture, but both depend. If you've been taking other items with +Mana, or are facing casters, go with Chalice - the mana regen passive is too good to pass up. If you're no longer having issues with keeping mana, then consider Tear of the Goddess to raise your max mana pool; as much as you cast abilities, that +1000 Mana cap will come sooner than later. Additionally, Tear is a piece of the Archmage Staff, which will rock your spellcasting world.
...What you do from there is up to your best judgement. Heck, what you do before there is your best judgement. But these are items that I've seen to be useful for Sona. Consult the preface with any issues with these.
How to Actually Play the Hero
For you, the fight starts when you get in group, not when the game loads. Identify a melee-type, and lane with them. Talk with the group to understand play styles, and what they and the rest of your team expect of you (usually, it'll be along the lines of "keep me alive, but do what you can to help us win overall.") If you do not have a buddy by the time everyone has left your base, you have already failed - Sona is a support character who will do best when supporting allies.
In the early laning phase, stay within three inches of your buddy, and keep an eye on their health. You can have Sona autoattack minions early on to speed things up, but keep an eye on the battle situation. If your lane's champions are MIA, there's a strong chance they're sneaking up on you, which could be problematic in the early game, even if you chose the Doran's Ring item option. While laning, your goal should be to stay in your lane for about 3-5 minutes, attempting last-hit autoattacks, and coming to about Lv.3 before returning to base the first time for your shopping.
When the game hits about Lv.9-12, when the "pushing" phase begins, you should have all your Auras at least at Lv.2, with Perseverance at about Lv.3-4. When this happens, you're gonna have to start communicating with your team. If they want to push a particular lane, get yourself there to help them; Sona has so few AoE options against non-Champions, so you have no need to jungle or play anti-minion defense. Work with your team to accomplish their objectives, but keep a healthy distance away from the enemy; you do your team more good in the rear gaining passive XP and GP5 (and structure-destruction awards) than by dying and not supplying your team auras and heals.
If the game turns defensive after Lv.14-16, keep near two things: a buddy and a turret. The turret won't do you much good, but you can use Hymn of Valor to at least destroy two weaker minions in one song. If a buddy pushes, go MIA and attempt to help them; at the very least you can take pressure off your base so your allies can counterattack.
If the game is going well and you're pushing in the endgame, do your best to ensure Hymn of Valor (Blue Aura) stays up; by this point, it should be Lv.3-5, and with some of the other heroes out there like Master Yi, Cho'Gath, or Taric, you should be chewing up structures like a Kit-Kat Bar. Just remember - even at this late phase, communication and situational awareness.
Should you be successful, your score should look a bit like this:
Kills: 0-5 / Deaths: 0-5 / Assists: 15-35 (I've maxed out at 33 so far...working on that. )
This isn't the only way to play Sona, first. However, she's arguably the most powerful support character in League of Legends. Not everyone likes to be the Support person on the team, but for those who do, give Sona a spin. I doubt you'll be disapointed.