The celestial vagabond known only as Bard dwells beyond the physical universe in realms unknown to man. Manifesting when others threaten the cosmic equilibrium, the ancient caretaker acts with speed and intent, only returning to his endless watch once he has steered Runeterra from catastrophe.
Bard’s presence causes sacred chimes to appear on the Fields of Justice. Collecting a chime grants Bard a brief burst of movement speed, experience, and mana.
Bard’s presence attracts small spirits known as meeps to his side. Whenever Bard attacks, a meep throws itself at his target, dealing extra damage before disappearing back to the spirit world. As Bard collects more chimes, the meeps that follow him grow in both number and power.
Bard fires out a burst of spirit energy in a line, damaging and slowing the first enemy struck. After Cosmic Binding hits an enemy, the burst of energy continues through, searching for secondary targets. If it hits a wall, it stuns the initial target; if it hits a second enemy, it stuns both targets.
Bard conjures a health pack that gains power for a few seconds. Allied champions who walk over the pack gain health and a brief burst of movement speed, while enemies can stand on the pack for a moment to destroy it.
Bard conjures a portal on a target wall. The portal tunnels through to the far end of the wall, granting one-way passage to all champions, friend and foe, who enter it.
After a brief delay, Bard places all units in a targeted area - friend or foe, including champions, minions, monsters and turrets - in stasis. Frozen units are immune to all damage until the effect wears off.
Bard is League’s first support to gain advantages solely from moving around Summoner’s Rift. By constantly collecting his unique chimes, he covers plenty of ground at all stages of a game, and offers his team both solid sustain with his health packs and unrivalled team mobility with his long range portals.
Even if he is a wandering spirit, Bard first has to identify the best windows of opportunity to roam before he runs off - he can't just abandon his marksman whenever he pleases. By making runs when his lane’s pushed or when his marksman has recalled, Bard can successfully roam without placing his teammate in imminent danger, then return to lane by the time he’s needed.
And while Bard roams around collecting his chimes, he has plenty of tools to support his allies. Laying down a Caretaker’s Shrine or two near friendly turrets gives Bard’s teammates the sustain to recover lanes that are losing, or overwhelm ones that are winning, and all without the Wandering Caretaker staying in lane. Bard’s Magical Journeys cover long distances in specific locations, too, gifting friendly fighters and tanks quick access to the enemy team’s jungle, and mages easy access to their own blue buff. The portals needn’t propel just Bard and his pals through the jungle, though - coordinating them with allied movement means Bard can quickly move his damage-dealing allies into lane ganks and toward objective control. That said, Magical Journey is best used when his enemies are both seen and distant - they serve little use when enemy assassins simply follow Bard through the portal before claiming lives.
Bard offers more than pure sustain and mobility, though, and fires out solid poke whenever he’s in lane thanks to Cosmic Binding. Though it deals meaningful damage on its own, the slow (and if procced, stun) give Bard surprising ganking potential, particularly when used in conjunction with Magical Journey. Enemies will have to think twice about escaping through the bottom and top lane brush when Bard can pin them to the nearby wall with a well-placed Q.
Once Bard hits six, he gains countless opportunities to secure and protect objectives across Summoner’s Rift thanks to the incredible versatility of Tempered Fate. If the enemy team’s tower diving a stranded ally, casting the ability over them grants them a few precious seconds of invulnerability while Bard’s team comes to the rescue. The ability has offensive uses, too, like freezing a lone enemy while Bard’s team closes in for the kill, or freezing an enemy turret while Bard and his allies get to work on diving their suddenly unprotected targets.
The Wandering Caretaker has plenty of ways to control areas of the map come mid game. Even if his team arrives late to a dragon attempt, Bard can cast Tempered Fate over the dragon before creating a Magical Journey into the beast’s pit. Suddenly what seemed like a simple dragon kill turns into a contested dragon buff and a full-scale teamfight. Here, Bard’s role changes to backline utility support. By planting a few Shrines around his team’s objective, he gives his team an automatic sustain advantage - allowing his frontline tanks to temporarily pull back to top their health back up, or squishier allies to recover if they get chunked down. Cosmic Binding becomes increasingly useful in tight areas, too - without large spaces to escape to, it’s much more likely to tether against a nearby wall or second enemy, stunning both units while Bard’s team secure valuable kills. Provided he’s collected enough of the chimes through the course of the game, even Bard’s meeps offer solid utility, slowing and damaging fleeing enemies once the fight is over.
Finally, Magical Journey offers Bard the chance to bring copious amounts of mischief to Summoner’s Rift. Baiting the enemy team into following him through a portal before stunning them with Cosmic Binding can bring about a quick and brutal ace, or drag them out of position, letting Bard sacrifice himself as his team emerges elsewhere from the fog of war to tear the enemy’s defenses apart.
While other Marksmen might suffer on their own, Caitlyn has all tools she needs to survive while Bard roams Summoner’s Rift. Her Piltover Peacemaker rounds clear waves quickly and safely, her Yordle Snap Trap can keep her relatively safe from enemy junglers, and if all else fails, 90 Caliber Net often gives her enough mobility to escape from otherwise deadly spots. When Bard’s in lane, well-aimed Cosmic Binding casts help the Sheriff land her Piltover Peacemakers, too.
Udyr’s a beast once he gets to his target’s face, but traditionally has trouble getting there in the first place. That’s where Bard comes in - Caretaker’s Shrine gives the Spirit Walker the speed he needs to accelerate him into the heart of most enemy teams. And even if the enemy still gets away, Bard can help with accurate Cosmic Binding casts, and, if needed, Tempered Fate.
The Sad Mummy has one of League’s strongest team fight initiation combos, but Bandage Toss into Curse of the Sad Mummy is only effective when Amumu actually lands his Q. Bard can speed Amumu into position with a smart Magical Journey before slowing his mark with Cosmic Binding. Even if he misses, Bard can simply fire Tempered Fate at his team’s target while Amumu walks into position to unleash his ultimate.
The quickest way to kill a wandering support is with an aggressive jungler, and none see further than Rek’Sai. By using Tremor Sense to track the roaming Bard, Rek’Sai can tunnel in, knock up and kill the Wandering Caretaker before escaping to safety. If Bard’s jungle is well warded, Rek’Sai can reposition with Void Rush to claim her kill, too.
Bard can only comfortably roam when his Marksman faces up against opponents who favor sustained damage over burst. Draven, with his brutal early game power, is anything but that, and will comfortably shred much more of his target’s health than Bard’s Shrines could hope to restore.
Similar to Draven, Leona exacerbates Bard's weaknesses by being a classic lane bully. In a favorable two vs one lane, Leona’s all the more likely to activate Eclipse before using Zenith Blade and Shield of Daybreak to close in and stun Bard’s lone marksman, even under tower.
Bard, game design by Rabid Llama
We’ve looked at the idea of roaming supports before. Alistar was one, for a while, before he roamed so well you guys transitioned him into a death-dealing jungler thanks to his nigh on unstoppable W+Q combo and extreme tower diving capabilities. So we made changes, nerfed his extra monster damage, and put him back in his traditional support pants. But we still liked the idea, and so started thinking of ways that we could bring a new champion into League that had all the hallmarks of a roaming utility support.
At the same time, one of the champion concept artists had drawn up a really compelling character. He was strange and otherworldly looking, so we started figuring out how we could join these two pieces - roaming support and this character - together. After trying out a few different mechanical hooks (he was, at one stage, a pretty bardy Bard, with a musical theme and an instrument that was more central to his abilities), we ended up with a cosmic character, a caretaker who existed to protect relics and places scattered around the world.
So how’s he different in game? Well, Bard’s roams to empower both himself and his allies. Each chime he collects soups up his Meeps passive, and as he travels, he’s incentivized to help out his other lanes and jungler with Caretaker’s Shrine. Crucially, they don’t require him to hang around, so Bard can pop into mid, drop off a shrine, then carry on towards top on the hunt for more chimes. Each chime gives him a short movement boost (so he can jet around at a decent pace), experience (so he doesn’t miss out on too much minion xp), and mana. All this means he’s rewarded for roaming, and can (hopefully) leave his marksman during laning without handing them a big fat death sentence.