Monday, December 31, 2012

Carry your Carry 2: Warding for an Aggressive Lane

If you and your carry are playing aggressively, you should expect to get camped by their jungler; if you don't get camped, it should feel like a pleasant surprise, as opposed to getting camped feeling like an unpleasant surprise.  With this in mind, it's even more important that you keep yourself well warded.

If you expect an early invade and are invading early yourselves also, you will likely need to place several wards at level 1 so that you have a very good idea of where the enemy team is.  However, since the proper places for these wards are so situational I won't go into detail about that here and instead assume that you're doing a "standard" start with no invades.


Place your explorer ward here at about 1:25 or 1:30 both to guard your taking double golems and also to watch for a level 2 gank from a blue-starting jungler.  If you see their team near your blue and your team doesn't want to fight (so that you don't have to go group with them) then this ward isn't necessary.  The reason for using an explorer ward is that if their jungler starts blue and doesn't level-2 gank, then he's almost certainly not going to gank for at least two minutes after taking blue, which means that the second two minutes of a regular ward will be wasted, so you should just use your explorer ward.

Ward the enemy side bush upon coming to lane (for the most part).  If you get to lane after taking doubles before they've finished helping with blue, you can walk into that bush and drop a ward in the center of it; otherwise just ward it safely from your bush.  I like to use a pink ward here if I think that I will be able to push my lane up a bit early and then camp the bush; otherwise a normal ward is fine.  Don't ward that bush if you won't make use of the ward; for example, I wouldn't keep it warded on either side in an Ashe/Janna vs Nunu/Cait matchup unless the lane starts to push towards me and I'm worried about a jungle gank---keep in mind that this is one place that can be very important to have warded two minutes from now that you won't be able to walk into after five seconds from now, and don't be stingy with dropping a ward in it if the lane starts to push towards you and there's nothing you can do about the pushing.

As soon as the jungler could be coming bot you need to start keeping a ward in tribush; that can be a pink ward, but on blue side it should probably only be a pink ward if the enemy support previously pinked it and you need to clear their pink.  When the jungler could be coming bot differs between junglers and whether you expect your red to be stolen, and it's better to be on the early side.  The other ward pictured is the way to ward river if you're scared to walk out.  Stand where I'm standing and place the ward just past the torch inside the terrain and then it will fall outside into the river.  If you do feel safe walking into the river, then a ward in front of dragon is better (I just don't have it pictured).

Warding here is important if the enemy has a jungler that can gapclose very easily through lane and you're pushed up to the tower.  When this occurs, if it's safe, just walk past your creeps and drop a ward into the bush from the lane.  If not, and you do feel safe walking into the enemy jungle to place a ward here then do that instead.  If you don't feel safe warding this bush at all, then you probably shouldn't be pushed up as far as you are unless you have very good disengage (e.g. Janna, Lulu, Nami, Zyra) or you know for a fact that the enemy jungler's ult is down and they're not scary without their ult or your jungler is very near bot and ready to counter-gank.

This is a ward that your midlane should place, and it can actually replace a tribush ward if you also have dragon warded---this is a good ward to have if the enemy jungler is stealing your wraiths or if the enemy midlane is Twisted Fate or Eve.  TF will likely want to walk here before teleporting botlane, and you can see Eve coming on a green ward placed here before her stealth kicks in.  If you do see someone approaching bot, you need to either get out, place a tribush ward, or have your midlane and jungler close for a countergank.  If you happen to chase through your jungle and have an extra ward on you, go ahead and place this ward if it isn't there already, but usually it isn't worth it to leave lane for as long as it takes to place this ward.  Warding here can be an answer to an enemy pick ward in tri if you don't have a pink yourself.

Place this ward if you're pushed up to their second turret or if your team plans to steal blue buff.  This is an excellent spot to place a pink ward, especially if you're going for the buff steal.  If you're warding to keep your laning safe, place the ward further towards wolves than I have it so that you can see as much of the approach paths as possible; where I put it is where you'd want to place a pink ward so that you can see the approach paths while still being able to see the entire bush so that you can clear any ward that they might have in the bush.  This positioning is also fine if their jungler and midlane don't have scary gapclosing and you're laning at the second tower.  This ward can be important even if you haven't yet pushed their tower, especially against Nocturne, so that you know when to expect that their jungler is about to come bot; it also lets your team have some control over their blue buff, so your midlane can push to tower as theirs is taking blue or perhaps you can even attempt to steal it.


This ward is good to have if you're expecting/scared of a level 1 blue invade.  Place your explorer ward here from over the wall, as shown.  This is also a good ward spot for midgame and even sometimes lategame, and it's also one that your midlaner might place during laning if you're scared of a blue invade.  Again, you can place wards that the midlaner usually places if you happen to roam mid anyway for some reason.

Put a ward into the enemy bush when you get into lane, similar to what you do on blue side.

Keeping tribush pinked when you're on purple side is always a good idea when you have a ganking jungler or midlane, because blue side is so vulnerable to ganks from tribush when they push out.  If your lane is pushing to tower, you also want to have tribush warded unless you are Janna with all of your cooldowns up and you're about to leave lane and you're willing to risk blowing all of your escape cooldowns to get away from an unexpected gank.

Keeping dragon warded lets you see both if dragon's being taken and also if the jungler is coming down lane to gank.  It's a good ward to have on both blue and purple side.

If your lane is NOT pushing, and their jungler does NOT have a good gapcloser, then you can usually get away with a single ward placed here instead of warding both tri and dragon.  If the lane does start pushing, though, don't be greedy about saving your wards---put one in tri also.  If you can't ward here or in tri because of a pink, then just put a ward into the bush right behind me in the picture.

Use this ward if you're pushed up to their tower and expect lane ganks from their jungler.  This is also a good ward to have if you're tower diving.

Warding the enemy red can be a good idea if you're pushing to their second tower.  Keep their red and wraiths warded and you should be pretty safe.

You can stand at the back of the double golem camp and ward over the wall into this bush also.  It's a good idea to ward that way if you're feeling scared, even though you can't get the ward as deep as you might like.

This is an alternative place to ward if you're pushing to their second turret.

Ward here if you chase into their jungle during laning.  Late game, this is a very good bush to keep pinked.

These are basically all of the places you want to ward during laning.  Obviously there are times that you need your own side lane bush warded, which I don't have pictured, and if there's ever a time when you feel the need to have sight somewhere else then put a ward there.


Keep in mind also that you don't want to be using too many wards during laning.  If you're playing passively, you should be able to get away with having only two wards---one in a lane bush and one in tri on blue side or one in a lane bush and one in between tribush and the river bush on purple side.  If you're playing aggressively and have control then you can leave out the one in their side lane bush, but then you need both river and tri warded, and if you push to their tower it's a good idea to put a ward that sees lane past their tower.  Almost never should you have more than three wards at a time unless you're so far ahead that you can push past their first turret and lane at their second turret, in which case you're far enough ahead that the extra 75 gold doesn't hurt you that much.

Try to have a sense of where the enemy jungler and midlane are.  If their jungler showed top 10 seconds ago, and their midlane just based with 10 hp, you don't need a tri ward right now.  Wait another 10-20 seconds before warding it.

If you have a teleport on your mid/top, try to get a ward to the end of their bush right before the lane starts pushing back to you so that your teammate can teleport behind them if they extend.  And if they have a teleport, anticipate this ward and buy an extra pink ward---it's worth it to permit you the security of pushing out and continuing to farm, even if you play somewhat passively due to the teleport.

Next time I'll talk about lane positioning; warding took longer than I expected it to, and I'm trying to keep the average length of posts on the shorter side.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Replay Reviews: Sona and Taric

These are two replays I reviewed by request from /r/summonerschool.  The Taric game was a ranked 5s game, and the Sona game was a normal.  The Taric replay can be found here and the Sona replay is here.


Part 1:

 Part 2:


Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Carry your Carry 1: Items

Every time you come back to lane from base, you should be stronger than you were before.  There are a couple ways that you can be stronger:

BETTER RELEVANT STATS.  This comes from buying tank/offense/utility items.  Note the key word "relevant."  Leona's not going to benefit from mana regen that much, so why did you buy a faerie charm?  Sona could do a lot better with mana regen than with AP, so why did you buy a Kages?  Actually think about the items that you're buying and whether you need that particular stat in order to do better in the lane.

SUSTAIN.  This comes from potions (and can come from regen items, but that sustain is much smaller than what you'll get from potions).  Early on, having significantly superior sustain on a support is amazing (provided they can't 1shot you) because it means that you can make unfavorable trades over and over until you've exhausted the enemy's sustain, and then further advances will turn into zoning instead of unfavorable exchanges.

SIGHT AND VISION.  Wards.  They let you position aggressively in lane without worrying about an unexpected jungler gank.  They let you stop the enemy support from dominating the lane by camping a bush.  Vision lets you prohibit the enemy from doing the same.  One properly-timed vision ward can win you the entire lane, and lacking a single ward can lose you the game.

AURAS.  The only ones you're really going to be getting in lane are mana manipulator and emblem of valor.  Both of these can be very good to have if you and your carry are staying in lane for a long time.  If not, then it's probably not worth it.

GOLD GENERATION.  This is Philostone, Kages, and Sightstone.  Averice blade is a complete waste on a support.  As for the others, get them if you honestly don't think you need better stats and plan on upgrading them AND have the item slots to buy them.  Don't get a philo if you're not going to get a Shurelyas; don't get a Kages if you're not going to get either a Twin Shadows or a Shard (or perhaps a Morellonomicon).  Sightstone is not a laning item if you're playing aggressively.  It's too expensive with too few stats to be a laning item.

Deciding what to do with your gold can be difficult.  Should you sacrifice a ward in order to get a red crystal?  Should you buy a cloth armor now because you can't afford a null-magic even though you really want to rush a chalice?  Do you really need a pink ward right now, or can you save that money for later?  How many potions should you buy?

To answer questions like these, you should consider what's going to happen when you get back to lane.  A really good way to get better at this is to watch streams.  Watch early laning and take note of what items the player bought and then see what the result was.  He bought a particular set of items and then died, and a different set of items could have resulted in him not dying?  Maybe don't copy that build.  Another thing that you can and definitely should do is to look at your opponent's items.  You should do this anyway so that you have a better heuristic of how well you can trade with them, but look at your opponents' builds retrospectively too.  What made them able to kill you more effectively, or what allowed you to kill them?

Here are some specific pieces of advice about early builds, but you should NOT consider this a set build order to follow every game.  Instead think of it as a "template" build that you will modify as needed.

Never go to lane without at least one ward.  If you can't afford a ward, ask your carry to buy one.  If your carry can't afford one, then discuss with him what item you could buy if he gets the ward anyway as opposed to what item he would be putting off, and decide which of you should make the sacrifice.  Getting a chalice on Nami is so huge that maybe your carry is willing to forgo his longsword so that you can get chalice.  You can also ask your jungler to give you a tribush or dragon ward.

Try to avoid going to lane without at least one HP pot, although depending on your lane it may be more important to buy other items.  If you're playing a support with a heal, it's less important to have HP potions; and if you're playing against a lane that's more about burst than about poke, it's also less important to have HP potions.

Vision wards are great when you have a specific reason to want to deny vision, or if you expect the enemy support to have vision wards.  If you know your jungler and midlane are never going to come bot because top is losing and needs to be camped, don't bother buying pink wards for tribush, unless you need to counter-pink the enemy's ward.  If you are unable to hold bush control from the enemy support, don't bother buying a pink to clear out their ward.  If the enemy support is buying lots of pink wards, you're probably going to have to do the same.

For opening builds, I like to go (Faerie or Rejuvenation) + 2 HP pots + 2 green wards + (vision ward or another green ward and a mana pot).  I go faerie on champions that need the mana regen and rejuvenation on champions that don't.  I will probably build the faerie into an early chalice, and I will build the rejuvenation into Emblem or Locket.  Fortunately, the supports that tend to not need faerie early tend to also want to build an aegis, so I will in fact go for the emblem.

After that, the question is, how do I add the most to my utility?  On Sona, I definitely need a red crystal ASAP.  On Nami or Lulu, an earlier Chalice is more important, although Lulu can do well in lane with very few extra stats, so getting auras for her ADC or even a philostone can work for her.  Melee kill supports that are capable of early tower dives should get an early cloth armor and red crystal, with an aegis finished before the end of laning.  "Passive" supports like Janna, Soraka, and Nunu can go for GP10 if they aren't being threatened by the enemy; otherwise build for late game items that you will want.  Just remember: every time you go for a GP10 or something else that's not going to help you win NOW, if you give up a kill as a result of that, your GP10 now needs to make an additional 300 gold before it was worth it for you to have bought it.  Know when extra stats are actually likely to make the difference between a kill and no kill or between a death and no death, and buy them when they are.

So now that you've gotten through the lane phase, what items should you buy?

Sightstone/ruby sightstone is absolutely wonderful if you have the item slot for it---if someone else is buying the pink wards, so you can have your sightstone and a slot for green wards, go for it.  Or if you have someone else with sightstone so that you can have six sightstone wards at a time, and someone else will buy one or two green wards so that you can ward important places without having those wards be "overwritten" then go for a sightstone.  If you're the only one warding, then you have two options---don't get a sightstone, or get a sightstone and lots of pink wards.  Why?  Because three item slots for wards is too many, and three wards isn't enough.  As you're leaving the enemy's base after taking an inhib, you want to drop a ward---and you cannot really reward this spot for a long time because it's not safe to do so, but then you need to fight around baron, which is going to take at least three simultaneous wards.  So that inhib ward really, really needs to be a permanent ward.

Shurelyas was arguably the best support item in season 2, and it's still an extremely good option.  You want to get it if your engage is not quite strong enough to get past their disengage and your team is ahead enough that you can win a fight if you get your engage off or if your disengage is not quite strong enough to avoid their engage and your team is behind enough that you can't win a fight if they get their engage off.  If neither of those two situations is the case, then you should get a different item so that you make your team stronger in the actual fight.  Shurelyas allows you to pick your battles, but it doesn't help you win the battle after it's started, so if picking your battle isn't very meaningful then improve your ability to win the battle instead.  Shurelyas can also be very good if your team is doing silly things that aren't safe and you absolutely cannot get them to start playing smart, since it's very good at rescuing teammates without blowing combat cooldowns.

Aegis is pretty much necessary to have on your team, especially now that it upgrades to Bulwark.  However, it's likely that your jungler or toplane will want one, so check with them at the beginning of the game to make sure that you're on the same page about who's getting one.

Twin Shadows is a wonderful choice to help you snowball a lead, especially if you have control over the enemy's jungle.  This item also allows you to get away with having fewer wards (in the event that you're ahead).  Don't get it if you're losing, since it won't really be able to help you disengage or survive.

Shard of True Ice is good if you have a good diver like Olaf or Nocturne.  If you're a support that scales well with AP and you have a carry that makes good use of mana manipulator, and on top of that you have a good diver, then absolutely get a Shard.  Shard is less good against teams with a hard initiate with a lot of AoE CC.  Get it when the slow will actually help you win a teamfight---similar to Twin Shadows, it's good to help you snowball a lead, not great if you're behind.  If you do get one, put it on your diver or on a peeler (could be yourself), with putting it on your ADC being a last resort that means that the fight already went poorly, since you don't want anyone to stay close enough to your ADC for the slow aura to affect them for any noticeable amount of time in the first place.

Mikael's Crucible is absolutely amazing.  The chances of the enemy team not having some CC that you want to cleanse your ADC out of are very small, and even if they don't, the heal can be huge if you time it well.  If you don't need the cleanse aspect of it, only get it if you were going to get a chalice anyway, and even then get it as a third item at the earliest.  If the enemy has something like a Galio or Amumu ult, get a Crucible and Merc Treads so that you can give your ADC the benefit of tenacity that he didn't need to build himself, even if you both get ulted.

Locket of the Iron Solari is pretty much never a bad item, and out of all of the support items, it's probably the one which is least good on non-supports, so you should definitely get one.  A kindlegem is often a very good laning item, so if you don't need the early Shurelyas you can go for Locket as your first completed item.  The cooldown is short enough that you should use it at the beginning of pretty much every damage exchange between the two teams.

Zeke's Herald is a good item if you have at least three autoattackers, but it's more likely to be built by a toplaner or jungler that wants a vamp scepter but not necessarily a Bloodthirster or Wriggles.  That said, Zekes + Cooldown Boots + Locket or Shurelyas is 40% CDR, so if your toplane is getting Aegis and your jungler is getting Shurelyas then you can go for Zekes, Locket, and CD boots and get an efficient 40% CDR.

Will of the Ancients/Frozen Heart/Randuins are items that can be extremely useful to your team but are probably better suited to a non-support champion, although tank supports can absolutely build FH/Randuins.  Only get WotA if you have two AP champions and neither of them is able to build it.

Banner of Command is good if you are doing a fast-push teamcomp, otherwise not really that useful.

Non-support items are totally viable, also.  Just because you're a support doesn't mean you can't rush a haunting guise if your lane is doing well.  You have three kills at five minutes in?  Go for a deathcap on Janna or a triforce on Leona.  Continue the snowball as much as you can.  Let your jungle Nunu go for more support-y items while you and your ADC get ridiculously fed off their botlane.

The overall theme here is being as useful as possible without that much gold going into your build.  Build the items that you need in order to win.

Next time I'll talk about laning---positioning, warding, and skill usage.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Carry your Carry 0: Introduction, Runes, and Masteries

INTRODUCTION.  The next few posts will be advice directed towards playing support in general.  The reason I'm splitting them up is that I want to keep posts on the short side but don't want to omit anything important.  I describe my playstyle, which is not the only playstyle, but in my opinion it's both the best and most fun playstyle, which is why I play it.  Your goal is to carry your carry in lane and snowball your carry relative to the enemy carry.

(A quick note---I say 'carry' and not 'ADC'.  Usually I use these two words interchangeably, but in this case it's deliberately not ADC; your carry can be a bruiser or a mage, and your job as support is still to snowball him relative to the enemy carry.)

With this mentality, your goal is to play as aggressively as possible.  The 'as possible' is the caveat here; you sometimes can't step any farther forward than your ADC is if, for example, you're both very low or the jungler is sitting in your tribush.  Your carry is sitting back and farming, but you're at full hp and holding 2 more pots than the enemy?  Walk up and trade damage.  Hopefully your carry will catch on and walk up with you, but if not then you just burned a larger percentage of the enemy's resources than you did of your own.  Learn your limits.  How many autoattacks can you take from MF as Sona when you're level 2 and at half hp with this runeset?  You don't necessarily need to know the answer to this question, but you do need to know when the answer is "one more" or "I need to flash out now."

Learning your limits you have to do on your own---even if you could memorize a large chart of numbers, there's no way you'd be able to figure out all of the factors that lead to your answer in the middle of combat without missing out on a lot of micro.  It's like learning juggling: You can beg people over and over to help you learn, but unless you practice by yourself for a very long time, you're not going to get anywhere.

That said, you can still learn a lot from watching streams, reading guides, and watching your own replays.  This series of posts will offer advice both directly related to playing games and also to using other techniques to improving your play.

RUNES.  If you want a list of runesets to run on particular champions, look up my lolking profile.  For the most part, I run the runes named "Champion Name" on that champion.  I run my Leona set on Taric and sometimes Zyra and Lulu.  Instead of listing runes for you here, I'll talk a bit about the logic that you should use to decide what runes to run.

In general, anything that's "all tank" can never go wrong in lane.  Supports' base damages tend to be high enough that they don't need additional damage, and that tends to come with CC so that the ADC can output enough damage.  When you're positioning as aggressively as possible, you want to mitigate as much damage as you possibly can with your base stats.  Since ideally you will be exchanging 1vs2 most of the time, increasing your defensive stats is way more effective.

In certain matchups, you may want to run offensive runes instead, if you are playing a champion that doesn't trade with autoattacks/being close to the enemy as well (examples include Zyra and Nidalee).  And sometimes the massive utility of another stat is so huge that you want to trade out defense for that stat.  In particular, I run scaling mana regen quints on Nami and lots of CDR on Soraka, since neither of these supports trades with autoattacks that well and both scale extremely well with the stats that I use instead.

When deciding what runes you want to run (this goes for any position, not just support), play a lot of games and ask yourself, "What stat did I need in order to do better?"  If you die a lot at level 2, try flat hp.  If you die a lot at level 6, try flat MR or armor.  If you run out of mana in late-game teamfights, run scaling mana regen, etc.

MASTERIES.  A lot of the same advice applies here.  Getting at least 9 points in defense is fairly necessary.  If you get the biscuit in utility, you can stack it on top of an HP pot for a huge amount of hp regen---this lets you take an early ignite and you can use this sudden regen spike to bait a lot of damage and cooldowns from the enemy botlane before flashing out (remember to exhaust before you flash!!) and giving your carry an easy kill or double.  (If you do this, rejoin the fight as soon as you have regen'd enough health to be able to do so.)  For these two reasons, I suggest always getting at least 9 points in both defense and utility.  It's possible to go both through Block in defense and through Explorer and 50 starting gold in Utility, so I like to do this setup even though it sacrifices the exhaust mastery; however, if you are playing a hard-engage support you probably want the exhaust mastery at the expense of block.

Next time I'll talk about itemization, which will be slightly more champion-specific.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What does it mean to support?

People give a lot of different answers to this question.  If you're Janna for a Vayne, your goal is to keep your carry alive and CSing.  If you're Leona for a Corki, your job is to feed your carry kills.  Your job is to keep your carry safe from ganks.  You're supposed to hold bush control.  You should keep your carry at high health.  You should harass the enemy carry.  You should zone the enemy Kog'maw.  You should have good map awareness.

These are all good points, but as far as I'm concerned, support has exactly one job, which can be said in a single sentence.  The job of the support is to snowball your carry relative to the enemy carry.

How to execute this job properly changes with the matchup, and it's when figuring out how to do your job that you arrive at the things mentioned earlier.  If you have a hypercarry and are fighting a midgame carry, just make sure that you keep your carry alive and farming.  If you have a midgame carry and you're fighting a hypercarry, make sure you're killing the enemy carry or at least pushing him out of lane.

Using this description for your role in a team will help you figure out what runes and masteries to run as well as what items to build.  Snowballing your ADC relative to the enemy ADC can mean being as strong as possible early---run flat runes, build early tank or damage, and win your lane really hard.  Or it can mean having good items to help your carry lategame---run some GP10 and build for later.  Every time you make a macro decision in an unfamiliar situation, ask yourself, "What will help me snowball my ADC relative to the enemy ADC?" and do the appropriate thing.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Clone recommended item builds

# A Python script to allow you to 'clone' a customized set of recommended items.
# Written by RheingoldRiver.  Feel free to modify and share it but please don't
# claim you wrote it yourself if you do so.

# This code is intended to work with Enigma's Recommended Items Changer.  I am
# in no way affiliated with Enigma and any errors here are entirely my own.
# If you have League installed in a different directory, edit the variables
# dirOrig and dirNew accordingly.

# The inputs are (1) a string of the champion whose build you want to clone;
# (2) a vector of strings of the champions to which you want to clone the build;
# (3) a string denoting which mode you want to take the build from; and (4)
# a string denoting which mode you want to copy the build to.  Mode strings are
# "sr" for Summoner's Rift"; "dom" for Dominion; "pg" for Proving Grounds ARAM;
# and "tt" for Twisted Treeline.

# Example inputs:
#    cloneBuild("Sona",["Janna","Nami","Lulu"],"sr","sr")
# will copy your Summoner's Rift Sona build to Janna, Nami, and Lulu on
# Summoner's Rift.
#    cloneBuild("Irelia",["Irelia"],"sr","dom")
# will copy your Summoner's Rift Irelia build to Irelia on Dominion.

# If one of your builds contains items not available on a particular map then
# the program will still work; those items will just not appear in your
# recommended items on that map.

# This code is not exhaustively tested, so make sure you create a backup
# before using it.

import os
def cloneBuild(orig,new,mode1,mode2):
    d1 = {"dom":"8", "sr":"1", "tt":"10", "pg":"3"}
    d2 = {"sr":"CLASSIC", "dom":"ODIN", "tt":"CLASSIC", "pg":"ARAM"}
    fileOrig = "EnigmaItem_" + d1[mode1] + "_" + d2[mode1] + "-0.json"
    dirOrig = 'C:/Riot Games/League of Legends/Config/Champions/' + orig + '/Recommended/'
    fOrig = dirOrig + fileOrig
    f1 = open(fOrig,'r')
    s = f1.readline()
    for champ in new:
        fileNew = "EnigmaItem_" + d1[mode2] + "_" + d2[mode2] + "-0.json"
        dirNew = 'C:/Riot Games/League of Legends/Config/Champions/' + champ + '/Recommended/'
        if not os.path.exists(dirNew):
        fNew = dirNew + fileNew   
        f2 = open(fNew,'w')
        s = s.replace(orig,champ)
        s = s.replace(d2[mode1],d2[mode2])
        s = s.replace("\"map\":\""+d1[mode1]+"\"","\"map\":\""+d1[mode2]+"\"")

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Botlane Communication

Good communication between ADC and support is something that everyone recognizes as being important---during laning, it's arguably the most important communication channel in the entire team.  Here are some tips on what you should say to each other.  I will assume for the most part that you have voicechat and then at the end briefly discuss what you should take the time to type in the event that you don't.  The four types of things you need to talk about are what to do; when and how to do it; whether you're able to do it; and the micro of fighting as two separate champions.

Note that a lof of this advice applies to any interaction within a team, but priorities shift when you're talking to someone who's not in the same lane as you.

Before the game even starts, discuss briefly how you want the lane to go.  For example, if you're playing Leona-Corki, you might say "We're going to take doubles and then soft push the lane at level 1, and then the instant we hit two, Leona is going to E to Sona and we're going to focus her down really quickly since Vayne has cleanse.  We need to make sure we get a kill before they hit 2, and then we'll try to snowball of that.  If we don't get a kill at level two then we'll ask the jungler to help and then wait for a gank to go really aggressive unless we are able to heal enough after the first fight that we can continue going allin."  If, at level 2, you don't get the kill, you should briefly discuss what went wrong so that you can avoid making the same mistake later on IN THE SAME GAME.  Don't worry about future games right now; that's what replays are for.  Then remind each other of the initial plan; if it changed, say what you're planning on doing next, and if not, then just continue.

Don't dwell on this sort of macro-communication too much.  You need to make sure that both of you understand your goals, but you don't want to distract yourselves from laning, since thinking about long-term plans can be very distracting not only from the mechanics of laning but also from more immediate things that you need to say out loud.  When you're first starting to play together as a botlane, you'll need to dedicate more time to this sort of discussion than you will once you've played 50 games together.  Once you're very used to each other as players, this should be at most 10% of your communication.

Once you both understand how the lane will work, you need to make it actually happen.  Talk about your short-term plans.  Things you might say here are, "I'm going to flash-pulverize Ashe in 3, 2, 1, go" or "After I get these two creeps, I will walk forward.  Walk up with me because we can kill them or push them out of lane now" or "When this pushes to tower, we can dive.  Tank for me and we focus Lux, just don't get baited by her shield" or "I need to go ward tribush.  Can you walk with me so that I don't get caught out as I round the corner?"

Discussing short-term plans like those should probably be the majority of your communication.  If you have the rest of your team in voicechat, try not to hog it too much, as the jungler will be needing to coordinate with everyone at the same time, but definitely say everything that you need to.  As you start to play together as a botlane more and more, you will need to say things like this out loud slightly less, but you'll never stop talking about short-term plans, even if you eventually start saying things like, "Go?"  "Okay, 3, 2, 1, go" because you both know what that means.  In a premade team it is a good idea to abbreviate your sentences as much as possible without losing any information so that you're not interfering with the rest of your team's communication too much.

The next thing you need to talk about is cooldowns.  It's very easy to fall into the trap of not communicating your cooldowns, but it's something you really need to keep on top of.  Roughly every thirty seconds, you should state the cooldowns on your ults and summoners, and every time you make a short-term plan, you should announce what spells you have (if relevant).  For example, you might say, "Exhaust in 10, ult in 30, flash in two minutes...exhaust up, ult in 20, no flash...10 seconds on ult, I have exhaust, dive as soon as it comes up...ult in 3, 2, 1, go."  Or you might say, "Amumu, can you come bot?  I'll have ult up when you get here, both my summoners are already up."  Not only is it a good idea to state your long cooldowns out loud so that your lane partner knows what you have up, but it also ensures that you won't miss the fact that one of your summoners came up and then not use it in a fight because you thought you didn't have it.

For certain champions, you want to keep track of more than just your ult and summoners.  On Soraka, I try to tell my carry the cooldown on my heal every five seconds.  If he's low on mana too, I'll track the cooldown of my E out loud also.  If we're trading very frequently, I'll track skills like Sona Q or Janna E every two to three seconds.  Carries should track long-cooldown nukes like Graves Q or Ashe W and their escapes, like Ezreal E and Tristana W.  In certain cases, like Kog-Nunu, the carry should also announce their steroid's cooldown.

Announcing cooldowns can take up 100% of your communication in theory, as you can always say what you have ready.  This is obviously not practical, but if there is a lull in the conversation, you should announce what skills you have up and the cooldowns on the remaining skills.

The other part of calling out cooldowns is calling out mana costs.  Maybe Sona has her ult up, but she only has mana for ult and one spell, which is not enough to fight because she's only at one stack of power chord.  She needs to say, "I have ult but not enough mana to fight," so that her carry knows that she can disengage with her ult if need be but that they shouldn't go aggro until Sona regens enough mana for a couple more spells.  It can also be useful to call out how many potions you have left---"I have two HP pots left, and their Graves doesn't have any pots left, so we can trade pretty aggressively since I can outsustain him by a lot and they don't have kill potential" or "I'm out of HP pots and only have one Dblade.  Graves has two pots left; let's try to avoid trading until our jungler gets here" are two entirely different situations, even though both of you may be at full HP and mana at that time with all of your cooldowns up.

The last thing to communicate is probably the hardest: micro.  Saying things like "flash to me, my shield is up!" or not can be the difference between life and death, but it can be very difficult to concentrate on your own micro at the same time.  A good way to practice micro communication is to say everything that you're doing out loud when you're playing by yourself or without voicechat.

No one of these four types of communication is the most important, and you will frequently not distinguish between them very much in practice.  You need to state cooldowns in the middle of teamfights, and you should plan out how you will execute the plays you are planning to attempt before actually starting them.  However, it can be helpful to categorize your communication into these separate types to make sure that you're not missing anything, especially when you're just starting to play as a duo bot.

Frequently, a duo bot will have a playcaller, even if the team's overall playcaller is the midlane or jungler.  The playcaller will be the one to say when you're going to aggress, when you need to play slightly more passive, and when you go back to base.  This means that the person who's not the playcaller needs to be even more on top of stating cooldowns and mana costs so that the playcaller is working with complete information.  Not having a playcaller is ok, but you should both know before the game starts who you will defer to in case you disagree.  This last part is extremely important---it's usually worse to do different things than it is to both do the incorrect thing together.

When do you ignore the person you agreed to defer to?  The short answer is never; the longer answer is when ONLY YOU HAVE VITAL INFORMATION YOU ARE 100% SURE THEY DO NOT HAVE (for example, you are Soraka and you just went to ward river; on your way you healed the jungler, and your carry doesn't know that your W doesn't come up for another 5 seconds).  And in this case, you already made a mistake because you should have communicated this information earlier.  The correct course of action to take here, is to tell them the information that they're missing IMMEDIATELY.  Corki is about to valk in?  Say, "I don't have heal" the instant he says he's going to do that, but be ready to flash for an exhaust on the enemy ADC to save his life if he can't react in time.  Ideally this is a situation you should never get into, but if it does happen then try not to get mad at each other, and just calmly try to make the best of a bad situation.

Finally, what if you don't have voicechat?  Talk as much as possible before laning starts about what your goals are, and then do as much communicating with pings as possible.  You should chat the cooldowns on your major skills when the jungler comes bot and also once or twice a minute.  Avoid criticizing unless it's something that they need to fix for later plays within the same game.  And don't underestimate the importance of saying "Good job!"  It can go a long way to increase trust between you and a random lane partner if not only do you do the correct things in engages but also acknowledge when they do the correct thing.

A wallpaper

I made a wallpaper from the splash arts of four of my five favorite supports (Sona is on my other monitor).  It still needs a bit of tweaking to the cutouts in a couple places, but overall I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  Full-size version here.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How to take Double Golems in the new season, and how Riot should stop you from being able to


Taking double golems at level 1, if uninterrupted by the enemy, is pretty much a free botlane win for blue side, as you'll hit level 2 long before your enemies will and so will be able to start zoning almost immediately upon arrival to lane.  For the most part, I think it's actually better to let the support kill the big golem, but it depends on the lane---whichever champion has the biggest power increase by leveling to 2 is the one who should take the big golem, as the advantage you can get in lane from having the extra level is worth a lot more than the worth a single golem kill.

As a lot of people have figured out already, double golems can actually be *easier* in preseason 3 for the carry-support botlane to take at level 1 without taking any damage.  Here's my favorite way to do it with a ranged support and ADC:

Have the ADC stand to the left of the small one, the support to the right of the big one.  When the golems spawn, the ADC pulls the small one while the support pulls the big one.  The support should damage the small one either with an autoattack or with a spell and an autoattack so that the ADC can kill it faster and then kite the big one by walking right to the edge of its leash range and then slightly further, then as it almost resets, walk back towards it and autoattack so that it reaggros, and repeat.  The ADC can just tank and kill the small one and then turn towards the big one to kill it; now you kite the big one as you used to in the old season.

With melee supports, you can do somewhat the same thing, but it's much harder to pull off correctly, and I recommend practicing it several times before trying it in a real game.  The support should stand near the big golem off to the side while the ADC pulls the small one.  Now the ADC kills the small one in the same manner as if the support were ranged, while the support kites the big one around the reset point---the reset point is marked on the terrain with a small mushroom, so you walk just past that mushroom and then turn around to reaggro; you should be able to keep it within a very small distance to you this whole time.

Actually killing the big golem is somewhat harder:  You kite it back and forth the same way as you did under the old jungle.  However, since ADCs are likely to not be opening boots, it's pretty much impossible to do without tanking it for a little while.  If you're Leona, Taric, or Alistar, apply your CC to the big golem one time.  If you're Nunu, either your W or E will allow your ADC to kite the golem.  If you're Blitz, it's gonna suck, and you'll almost certainly need to use a potion at the end.  This is fine though, because Blitz should be invading anyway.

And how can Riot fix this ridiculous imbalance in blue vs purple side?  Have double golems spawn at 1:54 instead of 1:40.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How to play Nami!

Currently, Nami has a very low winrate, low enough that a lot of people have stopped playing her.  But I think that most of this is due to people playing her wrong, not her being underpowered, and I think that buffing her would not be a good idea---although I wouldn't mind it, since I already have a very high winrate with her.  :)  Hopefully this guide will be able to shed some light on how to abuse her skills.

Note that Nami requires a HUGE amount of coordination with her ADC to be used to her full potential, definitely more than any other ranged support and perhaps more than any melee support.  It's not just that your ADC needs to be good; you and your ADC either need to be in voicechat or need to have played together for long enough that you don't need to talk in order to be very well coordinated.

It can still be viable to pick her in soloqueue because her teamfighting is amazing regardless and her laning is survivable even without coordination, but when Nami and her ADC are well-coordinated in lane, I think she's actually one of the strongest supports in the game.

This guide is intended to be a very brief introduction on how to play Nami, and I'll write a longer guide when I've had a lot more experience playing her (probably around 100 games with her, currently I have about 25).

(1) Runes.

I've been running flat armor reds, flat armor yellows, and flat magic resist blues every single game on her.  Other options for these would be flat AD reds or CDR blues, but only do CDR blues if the enemy botlane has very little or no magic damage (e.g. Nunu or Janna support) and you're planning on getting a very fast null-magic mantle (which is viable, more on this later).  For quints, I think that I like scaling mana regen the best, because Nami's mana costs are insane and your power increases dramatically for being able to spam your spells, similar to Sona.  Why scaling instead of flat?  Because they equalize between levels 5 and 6, and Nami's biggest mana problems are roughly between levels 5 and 9, before she gets her chalice but after she has a few levels in W.  Other options are GP10; flat HP; flat armor or MR, to counter a specific kill lane; or MS.

(2) Masteries.

Pretty much the same as what I run on Sona, either 0/13/17 or 0/9/21; when I write a longer Nami guide I'll go into more detail.

(3) Summoners.

Exhaust/Flash or Ignite/Flash if your ADC is taking Exhaust or Heal/Flash.  Nothing special about Nami vs Sona/Lulu in terms of summoners.

(4) Abilities.

PASSIVE---It's actually a pretty good passive for early aggression.  Use a skill while walking out of well to move quicker, but in general don't cast spells just for the movement speed unless there's a very close chase where it will actually make an immediate difference.  Her cooldowns and mana costs are too high to spam spells just for her passive.

Q---This is the strongest part of her kit if you hit it, and completely useless if you miss it.  Max this last, but probably get your first point in it at level 1.  I think that misuse of Nami's Q is the biggest problem that people are having with her right now.  Yes, it's wonderful if you can hit a Q on the enemy ADC because you correctly predicted their movement after getting a lasthit, but there's a huge risk associated with placing a Q because it's so easy to dodge; they can just allin on you if you miss a Q and have at least 12 seconds to do so before it's back up again---so that's roughly a 6-second window for them to engage on you so that your Q won't be up before the fight is over, which is really bad.

Instead, cast a Q whenever the enemy has an optimal place to be standing.  This can be after a fight has already been started or when the jungler arrives.  If they optimally are running away from you, put a Q so that they can't run away from you without running into it; flash for this if you need to, because a landed Q is pretty much a kill (or you burn their flash, so decide whether this is a worthwhile trade or not).  If they optimally are running up to you, put a Q in front of them.  If they're standing still in a fight, put a Q below them.  Obviously, if they are clearly doing something incorrect, and you can 100% predict their movement, then lead them with your Q (i.e. put a Q where they will be when it pops), but don't expect them to do something incorrect if they haven't already started doing it (e.g. MF runs from a Kogmaw with your E on him; this is probably incorrect, but they've committed to doing it, so lead with your Q).

In general, think of your Q as being like Janna Q---yes, it's great damage if it lands, but the CC is too important to waste, so save it for when you know it's going to be very, very meaningful.

W---This is your main trading skill.  It's decent if it hits once, great if it hits twice, and amazing if it hits all three times.  Try to go for having it hit twice for the most part.  The most common things to do with W are to hit the enemy support and have it bounce to you or to heal your ADC and have it bounce to the enemy ADC.

It's very important to be on the same page as your ADC with this spell so that you can get the bounce off when you're healing him.  Of course, sometimes it's not viable to get the bounce off, for example if your ADC is too low to walk forward and trade or if the enemy are both very far from your ADC---not casting this on cooldown is effectively increasing its cooldown so you don't want to wait too long to heal.

Take a point of W at 2 and scale it first.

E---Use this whenever your ADC will get at least 2 hits with it (assuming you have the mana).  If they could get 2 hits even without the slow, it's still almost mana-efficient to use it relative to W, and it will likely allow you to get an autoattack in also.  Furthermore, it's annoying to be slowed in lane, so you will gain an advantage just by them getting scared of your CC.  Do not use E if your ADC is only able to get one auto off, unless you're about to kill them or something; the damage is not worth it.

You can cast this on yourself and hit the enemy support too, but I don't really recommend this because it's not even remotely mana-efficient if you only get a single autoattack off, and it's unusual to get two autoattacks off on the enemy support in quick succession without a larger engage resulting, in which case you don't want to have wasted your E cooldown on the support.  Just use normal autoattacks on the enemy support unless you're trying to set up a slow for your ADC to be able to catch up and then also autoattack/use abilities.

If you have the reflexes/synergy with your ADC for it, you should wait to cast E until his first autoattack is physically on the air towards the enemy champion.  This will (a) surprise the enemy with a slow + extra damage and (b) guarantee that you don't waste your E due to them backing off before a single AA can hit.

If your jungler is coming or you and your ADC can get a kill yourselves, use your E to set up a Q, but don't allin on the enemy support in a 2v2 unless they're already really low compared to both you and your ADC.

Take a point in E at 3 and scale it after W.

R---It's really slow.  Really, really, really slow.  Slower than you remember it being.  Don't use this to engage a fight because it's too easy to dodge and it's enough CC that it hitting vs it not hitting is likely to change the course of a fight.  Instead use it immediately after the fight has been engaged, but without stacking the CC of your ult with any other CC if possible.  I like to use E then R then Q, but you can also do E then Q then R; it depends on positioning---if you're close to them, use R first, if you're farther you'll have to use Q first but then your Q will be less likely to land.  Like most ults, you should only use it either to save a life or guarantee a kill.

(5) Items.

I build Nami basically the same as Sona.  It's very important to get an early chalice on her.  My opening item progression is usually Faerie Charm --> Red Crystal --> Cloth Armor --> Chalice, but if I think I can go straight to Chalice from Red Crystal then I do that.

(6) Final thoughts.

Nami has enough escape CC that you can get away with a lot less ward coverage than you can with Sona/Lulu.  That's not to say don't ward, but you can usually make do with a single ward covering both tri and river paths to lane on purple side or only a tribush ward on blue side.

She feels like a hybrid between Sona and Lulu in lane, where she trades aggressively and sustains with the ever-present threat of hard CC.  If you land her Qs she's easily stronger than both of those two supports.  Overall, I think she's the most fun support right now.

How to play Sona!

This guide was mostly written near the end of Season 2.  I have updated the Item Builds and Masteries sections and added a section about fighting Nami since the beginning of Season 3, and I plan on a larger update within the next few months.

Feel free to comment with any feedback you have regarding this guide.

(0) TL;DR/Introduction

This guide is a very long wall of text, but it's split up into sections so you can read only part of it if you want; unfortunately this means that a lot of it is redundant if you read the whole thing, but I figured it was worth it.  Here's a table of contents:

(1)    What runes should I run?
(2)    What masteries should I run?
(3)    What supports should you play Sona against?
(4)    What ADCs should you play Sona against?
(5)    What ADCs should you play Sona with, and why?
(6)    What about meta-breaking botlanes?
(7)    What items should I start on Sona?
(8)    What items should I buy on Sona during laning?
(9)    What items should I buy on Sona after laning?
(10)  What to think about while laning as Sona.
(11)  Power Chords.
(12)  Auras.  What do I keep persistent?
(13)  My ultimate.

If you still have any questions about how to play Sona after reading this, let me know and I'll address them.  My qualifications are that I have over 500 games played with Sona, a large percentage of which were with high-Elo (1800+) AD carries.  I'm currently at 1700 Elo but don't really play ranked, and I've given several support lessons to people in the 1000-1500 Elo range.

(1) What runes should I run?

I like to run all flat tank runes.  The reason for this is that I am trying to be strongest when my power is largest relative to the power of the other people in the game; or in other words, when I can have the biggest impact on the game.  For Sona, this is very early on in lane.  After level 6, Sona starts to fall off relative to other champions (not necessarily relative to other supports, but to item-building champions).  She is very strong at level 1 with her auto + Q + power chord burst combo, she is very strong at level 2 with that damage and also a heal (or a slow if you don't need the heal to win), she is very strong at 3 and 5 as she gets more levels of her Q, and then her ultimate is amazing.  A flash-ultimate can get you a kill with most ADCs against most botlanes.  After this, Sona doesn't have farm to buy items to make her stronger, and so she starts to fall off.  She also doesn't scale that well with damage items but continues to provide utility to her team the entire time she's alive, and so for this reason I like to build her as tanky as possible.  So it's for these reasons that I prefer to not necessarily take GP10 runes and instead take armor yellows and flat HP quints, along with armor reds and MR blues.  If the other three champions in the lane mean that Sona can't be as aggressive as you would like (for example if your ADC is a Vayne and you're fighting Corki-Leona), then consider running GP10 quints.

(2)  What masteries should I run?

It's still unclear what the best masteries are in S3, but recently I've been running 0/9/21, making sure to take the 30 HP at level 1 in defense.  In utility, I take the flash mastery, meditation, summoner spell and active item CDR, all 6 of the points to get the starting gold, three points in Strength of Spirit, and the biscuit and ward plus the 21st point in MS.

An alternative path is to remove the three points in Strength of Spirit and the 3% MS and to take instead both points in Unyielding, an extra point in the second row of defense, and Block, so that you have 0/13/17.

Where you put the 4 points in the second row of defense is up to you; I like to split them evenly, but ideally you would do it based on the lane that you're fighting, e.g. 3 points in MR vs Leona/Corki or 3 points in Armor vs Nunu/Cait.

You might notice that I do not take the exhaust mastery.  This is because I think that the last points in both the 0/9/21 and the 0/13/17 paths are crucial to take.  You might want to consider swapping exhaust and ignite with your ADC because it's more important to have the exhaust mastery than to have the ignite mastery; and furthermore, exhaust will help your ADC win duels with the enemy ADC when you're not there.

(3) What supports should I play Sona against?

Sona is an amazing choice against anything that can't 1-shot her.  If your opponents are way worse than you then she's an amazing choice against anything (except Blitz), because her level 1 is so strong.  In particular:

VS ALISTAR.  Sona loses this matchup pretty hard, because she's not going to be able to get any poke down without being in Ali's engage range.  If forced to lane vs an Alistar, I definitely recommend running GP10 and maybe even maxing W first because there's not much you're going to be able to do in lane; Alistar's ability to reposition you is too strong, and Alistar is pretty much the only support whose level 1 presence can rival Sona's.  Unfortunately, Alistar is better lategame than Sona too (obviously depending slightly on teamcomp, I'd rather have Sona on a poke team, and potentially I'd rather have Sona on a full AoE team if the enemy doesn't have good divers that I need to peel for my ADC), so Sona just loses here.  If you have to fight an Alistar in lane, you should probably pick Taric, Leona, Nunu, or Janna, whichever fits better into your overall teamcomp.

VS BLITZCRANK.  This matchup is pretty much guaranteed to snowball one way or the other.  If Blitz misses a hook, Q him and auto him for the next 15 seconds (don't assume he has 0 CDR) before backing off and waiting for him to have his hook up.  If he gets to level 3 (so he has W, E, and grab), without you having a massive advantage already, then you have very little chance of being able to win the lane.  I don't like playing this lane at all, and I won't pick Sona if Blitz is open (go for a melee support instead).  If the level 1-2 doesn't go that well, then ward up very well and shove lane to turret all day.  This will allow you to position behind your minions without causing your ADC to get zoned; it will also stop Blitz from camping a pink-warded bush.  Make sure that you buy lots of wards (including pink wards) against a Blitz because the worst thing is to be pushed almost to your tower and not have your side bush warded.  In this matchup, you have a few choices for runes, depending on what you're going to do with your ADC---if you're trying to win really hard when you're level 2 and they're level 1, AND THIS IS POSSIBLE BECAUSE YOU WILL GET GOLEMS AND SOFT-PUSH THE LANE 100% GUARANTEED, then run flat HP quints.  Otherwise run MS (to dodge grabs) or GP10.

VS FIDDLE.  I haven't played this lane very much.  However, Fiddle is squishy enough that you should be able to poke him effectively early on, before his fear gets to be stupid long.  You should probably have your ADC run cleanse in this lane, unless you're confident you can win lane decisively before about level 5, when Fiddle has 3 levels in Fear.  Fiddle is a great support against whom you can try to get an early level 2 (take doubles or deny their doubles and soft-push the lane) and then try to push them out of lane or get a kill before they are level 2.  As he gets more points in his Fear, the lane gets harder and harder.  Once both sides of the lane are level 6, make sure that if you burn your ulti, you are DEFINITELY going to be able to get a kill because your ult is probably the only thing that can stop a Fid's channel, and you don't really want him to be able to ult you.  When he is 6, make sure you have vision of him at all times, unless he's already so weak as to be useless because you won your lane so hard at levels 1-5.  Remember to split away from your creeps and ADC if he casts his E on you so that you take less damage.  Also make sure that you don't walk up to him for an auto+Q+PC combo when his E is up because he will be able to silence you before you can Q and then you'll lose the damage trade.  I would consider running flat MR quints in this lane, but flat HP is always fine.  If your carry is significantly more late-game than theirs, then GP10 is fine too, but keep in mind that the weaker your ADC is in lane, the stronger you should try to be to make up for it.  Level QWQ and then take E if you're winning lane, W if you're losing.

VS JANNA.  You win this matchup pretty convincingly.  It's a long time before your power chord doesn't break through her shield, and your auto-Q-powerchord combo eats through her health.  Both you and your ADC need to be very pokey in this lane, because Janna is actually better than you aside from her lack of sustain, and so you need to be dealing damage to them over time.  Don't allin against a Janna unless they are already very low on HP, and if you allin on Janna once she's level 6, remember that she can always flash behind you and then ult you completely out of position.  The best way to lose lane to a Janna is to allin her, underestimating her CC and shield power.  If she burns her tornado for no reason, and it's before 6, then you're probably fine allining against her, but you should actually count her shield cooldown to make sure you don't get baited.  Leveling Q and W without taking a point in E is good in this lane because you're not going to be able to chase down the Janna anyway, and since you're unlikely to be allining, being able to switch to the correct power chord within a single rotation isn't as important.  Just get better sustain.  However, if they have a jungler without a gap closer who's camping you, then take a level in E.  If you decide suddenly at level 5 that you should have taken a level in E at 4, go ahead and sacrifice the level of Q---anything to keep you alive.  I would consider running HP regen quints in this matchup even after the nerf because Janna won't have that much kill potential, but it depends on the ADC.  Flat HP and GP10 are both fine too.  This is one of the only matchups where it might be worth it to run flat AD reds instead of armor reds, because you really are just trying to poke all day.

VS LEONA.  This matchup is pretty bad for you.  Try to avoid it.  If you have to play it, try as hard as you can to get level 2 first because when you're 2 and Leona's 1, you're way stronger---just don't get baited by their level-up if you try to allin.  Run flat HP quints and ward Leona's bush (facechecking a Leona is REALLY REALLY BAD) and then auto-attack her and Q her and autoattack her more.  You and your carry need to be really aggressive at level 1 and then allin at level 2 or you'll be stuck playing a passive lane where you don't have much presence at all.  Note that if you are being aggressive like this, (a) WARD RIVER EVEN IF YOU DON'T EXPECT A GANK and (b) MAKE SURE YOU ARE ON THE SAME PAGE AS YOUR ADC.  Leona can't split you from your carry the way that Ali and Blitz can, but if you are doing the splitting yourself for them, then it's only about 100 range between good aggression where they're focusing the support allowing your carry to clean up and you being out of position and dying for free.  Don't underestimate Leona, though.  Even if you're 2-4 kills up on them, it's still likely that they can engage on you, exhaust your ADC, CC you, and 1shot you before the CC is up.  If you start winning (snowballing) this lane early, consider rushing an aegis without even buying GP10.  Probably you should get a level of E at 4 just for faster traveling around the map and avoiding the jungler and getting a faster W chord off on their ADC in the event that you do get engaged on.  Also Leona doesn't have any poke at all, so you shouldn't need to be healing that much.

VS LULU.  She outtrades you when your combo isn't up, you outtrade her when it is.  If she puts an E on you, try to walk so it's hard for her to get a Q off on your ADC.  This is a matchup that I can't say that much about because it depends more on the ADCs than other support matchups do, since you and Lulu are so similar.  Against a Lulu, I'd suggest still running HP regen quints, since she doesn't have much kill potential early but she does have a lot of harass potential.  You probably don't want to get an early level of E unless you are snowballing, because Lulu is almost as hard to chase as Janna, so just win the poke war harder by having even more sustain.

VS LUX.  Lux has very very good zone control with her E.  You probably won't be able to hold bushes against her, so don't try.  Her cooldowns are long, though, so if she misses a skillshot, then punish her for it.  She has no sustain at all, so punishing her is actually really effective.  You are way stronger than she is at level 1, especially if you are running flat HP quints, so try to be aggressive as possible at level 1 (again, ward the river).  This is also a lane that it's fairly important to achieve level 2 first.  In particular, Lux has 0 mobility, so it wouldn't be unreasonable to get E at level 2, get a slow chord off on her, and then try to kill her.  She's really squishy, and a lot of Lux supports try to run flat AP---punish them for that.

VS NAMI.  Due to Nami's release being very recent, I haven't had a chance to play this matchup much.  If Nami hits her Qs on your ADC you lose, but if she doesn't then I think you win.  It's extremely important that you pay attention to Nami's cooldowns in this matchup.  If you see her heal her ADC, go aggressive.  If she puts her E on herself or on her ADC, back up a bit until the E has expired.  You would lose this matchup 100% except for the fact that Nami's mana costs are even more punishing than Sona's, so you can try to win the sustain game.  Allining vs a Nami is definitely not recommended, because pretty much the only time she can guarantee a Q to hit is when you/your ADC are being aggressive.  If she misses a Q, however, then you have a very long window of opportunity to be aggressive, since her Q cooldown starts so high.  If she maxes her Q, then the cooldown will scale down very favorably, but then you'll be able to win damage exchanges with her because her W will be so weak (assuming you can dodge her Q---don't be predictable!!!) so you should be fine.

VS NIDALEE.  Dodge her spears.  Dodge her spears.  Dodge her spears.  Make 100% sure that you have her bush warded so that it's easier to dodge her spears.  If you can't dodge a spear then walk towards it.  The worst thing to do is walk away from a spear and not dodge it.  For the first few levels, you absolutely wreck her, and then after that you win exactly when you dodge most of her spears.  Get early boots (even with the nerf) so that it's easier to dodge her spears, and get an early level of E so that it's easier to dodge her spears.  You just have to dodge her spears.  Against a Nidalee, run HP quints if you think you can win an allin at level 1 (remember to ward river!), otherwise HP regen or MR or GP10.  And remember to dodge her spears.

VS NUNU.  If you don't win this lane really really hard, you lost it because BB is so much better than basically anything you can provide lategame (unless it's an AoE comp).  If he ice blasts you, your carry should immediately try to trade; if he doesn't ice blast you, then you get free poke on him.  DO NOT push against a Nunu; his ADC just wants to be farming under tower anyway.  Yes, Sona automatically pushes with her Q, so think about not Qing as much and instead just harassing with your autoattacks, standing behind their creeps.  WARD RIVER AND TRI IF YOU ARE STANDING THIS FAR FORWARD.  I lose lane a lot because I don't feel like giving up my dominant position to ward.  Don't do this.  In particular, it may be worth it to reward as much as 30 seconds early so that you don't have to give up your dominant lane position to reward later (this holds in general, not just against Nunu).

VS SORAKA.  Soraka is an annoying bitch, and I wish that she didn't exist in League of Legends even though I used to main her.  Try to lane with Trist/Varus/MF against Raka so that you can get a free healing debuff, and try to zone them as much as possible at early levels.  Time her W CD, and go for an allin when it's down.  She is stupid weak at levels 1 and 2 unless she opened Q, so do a lot of harass damage to her then.  If she gives her carry mana, take a more dominant lane position for the next 8ish seconds (don't want to underestimate her CDR).  When her E is up she actually outtrades you unless you're already at 3 stacks of your passive.  For this reason, you don't actually want to be comboing her very much (unless her E is down); instead just get power chords off on her.  If she heals herself, you should allin on her carry if at all possible.  Against a Raka take E if and only if you are dominating lane---otherwise it's too hard to get kills because her heal is dumb.  However, Raka isn't that great late game so you should be fine on that front.  Jungle ganks are good.  Don't get heal baited if you try to dive her.  Run GP10 quints against a Raka.

VS TARIC.  At level 1, you absolutely dominate.  At level 2, if he was forced to take heal because you won level 1 so hard, you still absolutely dominate.  Once he has shatter, it's pretty scary.  I wouldn't pick Sona into Taric, but it's not the worst possible matchup.  Once he is 6, you have to be really careful, because his E-Flash-R-W is a huge amount of damage, and then adding the ADC's burst on top of're probably dead.  Rush a red crystal against him, and run tank quints, or you'll be forced to play very passive.  Get a level of E at 4 if you're winning really hard, otherwise only get Q and W.

VS ZYRA.  This is another matchup that I haven't played much, but I have played some support Zyra, and my conclusion is that Zyra is pretty good against Sona because of her excellent zone control, but that if Sona runs flat HP she should be able to get such a significant advantage at levels 1 and 2 that Zyra won't be able to win.  This is another lane where getting early jungle pressure is extremely important for you because the lane can easily snowball in either direction.  Don't run from Zyra's plants; kill them instead.  Get E at 4 in this matchup if and only if you're winning really hard early; otherwise just try to sustain more.  Since Zyra has no sustain of her own, as long as you don't die you should be fine.  Buy a lot of HP pots.  If you're having a hard time dodging her snares, buy boots early, otherwise get a fast red crystal and then chalice second so you can outsustain her even harder.  If Zyra opens with a pink ward, try to push your lane pretty hard because if she gets control of her own bush that's very bad for you---there is no way for you to keep vision of your bush away from her completely because of her seeds (which she'll probably be maxing second), so she'll be able to poke you with Q, E, plants for free and you won't be able to do anything back to her.  The advantage for you is that you're faster than she is, so it's easier for you to get auto attacks off on her.

(4) What ADCs should I play Sona against?

This section is much easier.  Sona is good against short-range and late-game ADCs and bad against long-range ADCs.

VS ASHE.  You can only walk up to her when her W is down, so time this.  It's hard for you to trade with Ashe because your range is so much slower, but if she Ws and doesn't hit you or if her W is down you should definitely be able to get a combo off on her.

VS CAITLYN.  This is my second least-favorite ADC to lane Sona against.  Cait's zone control is amazing, and so Sona can't walk into good positions for Qs, and Cait's AA range is so long that Sona can't really poke her that well.  You have to either play passive or have jungler camp lane or lane with an ADC with good enough engage and burst that there's always the threat of you flashing on top of Cait for lots of damage and your ADC gap-closing onto Cait with really good burst and Ezreal.

VS DRAVEN.  Just don't die.  This is my least-favorite ADC to lane Sona against (but Sona is a pretty good choice against Draven if you trust your ADC and can hit 2 first; otherwise Taric is a better choice, or Leona).  Cait is a pretty good choice for ADC vs Draven because of her range.

VS EZREAL.  He pokes a lot; dodge his Qs and you will win lane, don't dodge his Qs and you probably won't.  Sona is particularly good against Ezreal because he can't dodge her damage the way he can may other supports'.

VS GRAVES.  He's really short-range, so you should be able to get a lot of harass off on him, just don't get Q'd in the face.

VS KOGMAW.  This is another lane where if you don't win it really hard early, you probably lost it.  Try to poke him as much as possible, and have boots before he's 6.  Back off when he turns his W on, go in when it's on CD.  Ideally he shouldn't be able to get a single CS with his W down without taking AA damage from you.

VS MF.  She trades really really well.  Don't stand behind your creeps when she's at full mana or she will be able to Q you (also try really hard not to play vs Blitz MF).  Try to get combos off on her when you can, remember her W will stop your W from being effective, and don't waste your ulti without being able to convert a kill once she's 6.  If you get her passive off, try to keep it off if possible.  Buy a lot of HP pots vs her.

VS SIVIR.  Remember Qing her gives her free mana, so don't do it unless you are trying to have her spellshield be down for some reason (or if you're trying to make it so that she doesn't equate you Qing her with your jungler being about to gank).  Her Q hurts a LOT if you're the only target, so don't let that happen.  Stand in the middle of your minions and AA her; her AA range is pretty short so you should be able to get a lot of AA damage off on her.  Also note that your power chord counts as a spell for her shield.

VS TWITCH.  He is INCREDIBLY squishy.  Do as much damage to him early as you can.  Buy a pink ward so he can't escape by stealthing.  His damage output is huge, though.  Try to dodge his W and don't forget about his expunge when you're calculating how much longer you can fight for.

VS URGOT.  Urgot is really weak right now, dodge his stuff and attack him whenever he goes up for a lasthit.  Beware his ult into a jungle gank at level 6.

VS VARUS.  You won't really be able to trade with him unless you and your ADC are trading together.  Try not to group for his ulti, try to get jungle ganks because he doesn't have mobility.

VS VAYNE.  You NEED to shut her down.  You do massive damage to her early, and before she has silver bolts she can't hurt you very much at all.  Just make sure you're not against a wall that she can condemn you into.  Your poke should be enough to zone her very effectively for a long time, but once she has any item at all you can't trade with her anymore.  Have a pink ward for her ulti when she's 6, and try to get jungle pressure.  You should definitely be trying to snowball lane against Vayne.

(5)  What ADCs should I play Sona with, and why?

Sona is fine with every single ADC.  Some ADCs are a kill lane at 6, some are poke lanes, and some you're just trying to keep them alive by being a scary threat in lane so that the enemy can't allin on you.

WITH ASHE.  You are trying to get a kill at 6 by having Ashe ult and then Sona flash+ult.  Poke with Ashe W before that.  Sona doesn't need E because Ashe has W and Q.

WITH CAITLYN.  This lane is so stupid to lane against.  Cait can ensure Sona's bush control by placing traps, and Cait's range combined with Sona's poke means you can zone pretty much anything while Cait is still able to CS.

WITH DRAVEN.  Run them down and kill them at level 2.  Draven is stupid strong in lane, and adding Sona's damage to that is amazing.  This is a lane where you're trying really hard to get level 2 first.

WITH EZREAL.  This is still my favorite lane to play because it's just so fun.  Both of you have amazing poke, and if Ezreal buys a couple mana pots you have enough sustain to kick them out of lane for daring to try to get a couple CS.

WITH GRAVES.  Massive damage from Graves Q (if he's close to the enemy) and Sona Q.  Massive burst at 6 from their combined ults.  This is one where you exhaust the carry, ult and burst the support at 6.

WITH KOGMAW.  Don't go for kills early, but once Kogmaw has an item you should be able to run a lot of things down and kill them.  Get a level of E by 7 (yes, worth it to sacrifice Q if you didn't get E at 4) so that you can help slow them.  It's not as good as Kog-Nunu for running people down, but it's still decent with your E chord and Kog's E.  Remember that Kog's damage isn't that high in lane so you shouldn't be trying to allin early, but you can definitely be harassing.

WITH MF.  Poke them and trade with them all day.  This lane is also really strong with the poke from MF Q and your Q.  Get your E at level 4 so that MF doesn't need to burn mana on her E for the slow to chase them down (or possibly not even take her E at all).  This is a lane where it can be really tempting to push all day, but you shouldn't; actually just zone them if possible.  You have pretty decent kill potential at 6 with your ults combined, as long as you've been maintaining your poke the whole way so that they're already low.

WITH SIVIR.  Really good poke, really good bush control (Sivir should be able to get a full Q off on their support if he dares to step in the bush).  Not a good allin, but you have an amazing trade potential at 6, so you can fight anything that's not a kill-at-6 lane once you get 6.  This lane is very good for zoning due to Sivir's Q damage when minions aren't in the way combined with your combo damage.

WITH TWITCH.  Amazing damage.  Get them to think that Twitch is out of lane (take a few CS yourself), have him stealth in an unwarded bush, and then kill them; he'll slow them with W and you can slow with an E chord and you should be able to do at least 50% of their health if not kill them completely.

WITH URGOT.  I don't really think you should play this lane.  But with jungle pressure at 6 you can get a good combo of your ult plus Urgot's ult, and prior to that you have a lot of poke damage if Urgot can hit all his missiles.

WITH VARUS.  Good poke lane that's also good at securing a kill at 6 by chaining your ult plus his.  This is one where you'll probably have to lead with a flash-ulti and then have him follow up because yours is way easier to hit.

WITH VAYNE.  Just keep her alive to lategame until she has her first item, then you can try to fight them. Probably don't get a level in E because you really don't have that much kill potential early.  Unless it snowballs for a bizarre reason at 1 or 2.

(6) What about meta-breaking botlanes?

Something like Leona-Panth, Leona-J4, Blitzstar, etc. that is just there to kill you, you should play very safe.  You can level W first if need be.  Just don't die.  They will snowball backwards if they don't get any kills, so just rush tank items, keep brushes warded, and don't worry about getting gp10s---if you don't have your philo until 20 minutes and that's your only gp10 but they didn't get a single kill then you won.

(7) What items should I start on Sona?

There are a lot of options for this now, and it depends entirely on the lane you're fighting.

CLOTH ARMOR---If it's a double-bruiser botlane or Nunu/Cait or Ashe/Janna then I would consider getting a cloth armor, 2 wards, and 2 potions, probably one mana and one HP.  The reason for this is that vs the double bruiser lane, you really need the extra survivability, and vs the carry/support lanes mentioned, you're trying to allin very early so the extra tankiness is worth it at the expense of the superior mana sustain of Faerie charm.

FLASK---I tried this for a while and decided that I don't like it that much.  But it can be viable to trade very aggressively early if you start with a flask and several wards and a few pots.  I wouldn't recommend starting with only flask + wards, even with the biscuit, simply because if you start out with three wards you're unlikely to need to base because you need additional wards first; you will probably base earlier than that because you got a kill or are low on health/mana resources, due to Sona's aggressive nature in lane.

REJUVENATION BEAD---I don't think this is a good opening item; I would rather have the Faerie charm.  But you can consider this if you're planning on playing passively after level 2, e.g. vs a Leona.  You would get three sight wards and three potions (HP or mana, your choice) in addition to this item.

FAERIE CHARM---This is still my preferred opening item on Sona (actually, on pretty much every ranged support).  Faerie charm, 3 wards, 2 HP pots, and 1 mana pot.

BOOTS---Not really worth it at all anymore as an opening item on Sona.

ONLY WARDS AND POTS---You can still do this if you are going to do a coordinated level 1 fight with your team.  Otherwise get at least a flask.

OTHER---Situationally, you could open with a red crystal or a null-magic mantle, but you would only do something like that if you have a definite plan for a level 1 fight or something.

(8) What items should I buy on Sona during laning?

SUGGESTED.  Faerie Charm --> Red Crystal --> Cloth Armor --> Chalice --> Emblem --> Laning over/get boots now.

RED CRYSTAL.  This is almost always the first thing to buy.  The extra HP is just too good to get pretty much anything else, assuming you're playing very aggressively.

MANA MANIPULATOR AND EMBLEM.  These two items are both extremely good in lane, especially if you're playing a sustain-poke lane with an ADC with high mana costs.  I would definitely consider getting both of these two items in lane if I notice my ADC running out of mana a lot.

GP10.  Both Kages and Philostone build into good support items, with Shurelyas still being an amazing support item.  You would build Kages into Twin Shadows or Shard of True Ice.  Shard is nice because it also gives you the mana regen aura of mana manipulator, but I don't think it's that good of an item relative to its cost.  You can build GP10s if you're playing somewhat passively and not at huge risk of dying, but otherwise I wouldn't really get GP10s anymore.

SIGHTSTONE.  I think this can be an okay item at the end of laning, but I would never ever get it during laning---when you first buy it, you're spending 700 gold all at once to get 100 HP and 2 wards basically, since you're unlikely to stay in lane so long that your wards expire.  Compare this to spending 625 gold on 180 HP and 2 wards.  That 80 HP is actually a lot on Sona early on, and keep in mind that you're unlikely to have as much as 700 gold on your first back---in fact, I usually ask my ADC to buy a ward for me, since I usually only have about enough for a red crystal and a single ward.  Every time you go back to base, the money could be spent on snowballing your lane forward even harder and I don't think it's a good idea to get a sightstone instead.  If your opponents build efficiently during lane they will just be able to beat you.

BOOTS.  I don't really get boots on support until after laning is over with the new boots nerf.

CHALICE.  I consider this to be a laning item on Sona.  The ability to spam your spells is HUGE; the sustain and trading power you get from constant Qs and Ws is great, and in addition you can get power chords up way more often.  Chalice means that you can start a fight out at about 50% mana and regen enough during the fight to be able to cast spells through most of it.  Furthermore, chalice now builds into Mikael's Crucible, which is a fantastic item.

KINDLEGEM.  This has always been a great item and is still a great item.  Both Shurelyas and Locket are very good items, so you can build it into either, depending on what your team needs.  I wouldn't necessarily get one in lane anymore (on Sona) because I think there are better choices, but if you feel you really need the CDR (e.g. you are getting ganked more often than your ult cooldown) then go for it.

(9)  What items should I buy on Sona after laning?

There isn't really anything special about Sona vs other ranged supports in terms of late-game items, but make absolutely sure you have a chalice by 30 minutes at the latest.  Good items right now are Aegis, Shurelyas, Mikael's, and Locket pretty much always; and Twin Shadows and Shard situationally.  If either (a) your jungler and toplane both have a Sightstone or (b) you have an item slot to spare, by all means get a Ruby Sightstone; it's a very good item for three people on your team to have, since 9 wards at a time on the map is pretty much sufficient.  However if you're the only person buying wards and you don't have two item slots free for wards plus an item slot for pink wards, I don't actually recommend getting a Sightstone, since 3 wards at a time is NOT enough.  You will definitely need to have two slots dedicated to wards (sightstone + a stack of 5) and also a slot for pink wards, leaving you with a slot for boots and two other slots, which is not really going to be enough.

For boots, you can do cooldown if you're not getting focused AT ALL in fights, merc treads if there's a lot of AoE CC that you want to be able to escape quickly (the most notable one being Galio ult, so that you can cancel it early with yours after your taunt ends, or anything with a Crucible so that you can cleanse your ADC), or tabi otherwise.  For enchantments, I recommend Captain or Distortion or maybe Alacrity, but I think that your boots enchantment should be the last thing that you buy.

Get Oracles whenever there's a Baron dance; otherwise just use pink wards.

(10) What to think about while laning as Sona

Think of your lane and the enemy's lane as having sets of different resources.  These resources include gold (to be spent on items later), HP, mana, map vision, and lane positioning.  Ideally you're trying to exchange the latter resources for the first one---you want to sacrifice some of your mana so that you can force them into a lane position that doesn't allow them to get gold, or you want to sacrifice some of your HP for all of their HP, so that you can get gold for items later, etc.  Most people already think of HP and mana as resources to be managed, but it's important to remember that map vision and lane positioning are also resources.  You frequently trade lane positioning for HP and mana or HP and mana for lane positioning, and when deciding where (and when!) to place your wards, you trade between map vision and lane positioning.  For example, it would be great to have a ward in toplane or at their red at the beginning of the game for extra map vision, but can you sacrifice the lane positioning that you'll lose from not being able to ward the enemy support's bush twice?  Do you want to sacrifice the map vision that you could get from a ward for an extra two HP pots?  And do you want to spend gold on map vision?  Obviously you want to have some wards on the map.  But if you're blue and you have dragon warded and your mid warded your wraiths, do you really want to spend the gold on a tribush ward?

These questions are important to think about with every support.  Sona in particular usually wants to be sacrificing a lot of things for early lane positioning---you sacrifice gold for HP pots and mana pots, and you sacrifice mana for HP, and you sacrifice some HP for lane positioning.  THIS DOES NOT MEAN RUN UP TO THEM UNSAFELY.  "Will this make me die?" is a question you need to ask yourself whenever you do anything, and if the answer is yes, and you're not going to get kills or objectives, DON'T DO IT.  But if it's safe to do, you should try to position more dominantly.  Knowing when it's safe to run up and Q the enemy ADC is something that comes with practice.  When you're at a full mana bar, run up, auto+Q+powerchord or just auto+Q the enemy ADC and then immediately W so that any damage that you take in return is diminished by your extra armor and MR.

As your mana starts to run out, make sure that you have enough for 4 spells and an ult so that you're unlikely to run oom during a fight, and start to back off a bit.  You need to exchange some lane positioning for mana, which will allow you to increase your HP resource and drain their HP resource.  This does NOT mean stand way behind your ADC.  It means you stand as far forward as you feel comfortable standing given that you don't have mana to spend on Q+W immediately for a trade.  This is a good time for a jungle gank if the lane is pushed to a good point, since you have enough mana for a fight right now but no more.  It's also a good time to start thinking about going back to base, if the lane is pushed and your ADC has a good amount of money to spend.  ('good' isn't the same as 'a lot'---for example, 1550 gold is a really bad amount to base with if he already has two dblades, vamp scepter, and boots 2 and wants a BF sword rather than a zeal)

(11)  Power Chords

This is basically the reason Sona is a god.  After casting three auras, your next attack will do additional damage and also have a secondary effect depending on the most recent spell you cast.  Q will double normal damage, W will apply a debuff to the target that causes them to deal 20% less damage for the next 4 seconds, and E will slow them by 40% for 2 seconds.  Power chord (bonus) damage is 8 + (10 x level) magic damage.

The first thing is how to manage your power chord at the beginning of the game.  If you're going to be attacking jungle camps (helping jungler with wolves/blue or taking doubles with your ADC) then you want to start out with all three stacks, so Q once, buy items, Q a second time as you're leaving well, and then Q a third time around 1:30 so that you have 3 stacks when you're starting the camp but 2 stacks for as long as possible in case there's a fight.  Use your power chord on the camp immediately, wait about half a second (otherwise it can bug and not give you your first stack even though you cast your Q after discharging your chord), Q once, then Q again, then just autoattack so that you're at 2 stacks for lane.  If you're helping your jungler then the first Q is on wolves and the second is on blue (try to make it so that you Q blue and a small minion instead of the two small minions).  If you're taking doubles, then Q for the second time on cooldown.  I suggest giving the small golem to the support and big one to the ADC so that both of you hit 2 early, but the ADC gets the extra gold.  Or just make sure that you're in melee range of the golems when they die, but this is hard to do without taking too much damage.

If you're not attacking jungle camps, just keep your passive at two stacks for lane.  You'll go into lane, ward the side bush, and then try to combo the support; if the enemy ADC and support aren't in lane yet, and they're not something that's especially strong at level 1, then walk up with your ADC so that you can get a combo off on them when they get into lane plus damage from your ADC.  Make sure that you're not scared of a quick level 2 gank from the jungler though.  I like to ward river/tri very early if I'm blue and their jungle started blue or purple and their jungle started red as Sona so that this very early aggression is safe.  However, do make sure that you're on the same page as your ADC.  If your ADC is back and you're trying to run up at level 1, you're out of position.  Don't do it.

Once you are level 2 and have more power chords, it becomes more complicated.  You're about to all-in their ADC.  Should you open with a W chord or a Q chord?  If you're both level 2, a Q chord is probably going to be more damage on them than a W chord will prevent, but as the game progresses it becomes more important to get the W chord off before the enemy lays down their burst, as fights last for longer.  I could give you a large table of numbers, but honestly, this is something you won't have time to calculate nor is it something that's practical to memorize.  Just try doing both and develop a strong heuristic.  Generally in early lane a Q chord is better.

You're about to poke their ADC and you have an E chord ready.  Should you use it immediately and then follow with a Q and another auto?  Or should you Q and then auto so that you get the extra power chord damage?  Again, this depends on a few factors.  If your ADC will be able to get in an auto also but only if you use an E chord, go for the E chord.  If you're hitting them with power chords each time you get one up, go for the E chord so that the Q also gives you another power chord stack.  If you're at full mana and can chase a bit, go for E chord followed by E --> W --> Q  --> another power chord with an autoattack as soon as your AA cooldown comes up after the first E chord.

You're chasing an enemy and at 0 or 1 stacks.  DON'T USE YOUR E IMMEDIATELY.  This is so important.  Sure, you are out of Q range and your teammates are at full health.  Cast a Q and a W before your E (or just one of them if you're already at 1 stack) so that you get your power chord up.

It's a teamfight and there's a bruiser on your ADC.  Any one of the three chords could be appropriate.  If the bruiser is about to die and doesn't have much MR, go for a Q chord to try and get the kill faster.  If it's Udyr or someone else who's kitable, go for an E chord.  Otherwise go for a W chord since the fight will probably last for a long time and the reduced damage from the bruiser is almost certain to pay off.

It's a teamfight and you're in AA range of the enemy ADC.  Try to get a W chord off.  However, it's a good idea to try to not stack your exhaust with your W chord, so exhaust and then IF THERE ISN'T A GOOD SECONDARY TARGET FOR YOUR W CHORD hold your auto for the exhaust to run out; then W chord the ADC.  What is a good secondary target for your W chord?  A bruiser or a mage WHO STILL HAS COOLDOWNS UP.  Don't W-chord the Lux who already ulted, Q'd, and E'd that fight, but do W chord the Orianna who ulted but is about to move her ball.  Try not to W-chord the enemy support.

(12)  Auras.  What do I keep persistent?

The one that you have leveled the most, usually.  Don't keep your level 1 W aura persistent when you have a level 4 Q aura.  However, there are many specific circumstances under which you should do specific things.

Your ADC/team is/are CC'd.  Keep your W aura up until they are ready to deal damage, and then put up a Q aura.

You're running away.  Keep your E aura up, and then slightly more than .5sec before it's about to come up, W and then E again (or Q and then E again, if the people chasing you are low).  This way you never lose the passive MS and gain the active MS as frequently as possible, but you are still able to heal your teammate and yourself.

You're fighting with a mage.  Use Q and then W when their cooldowns are used; then Q again when their cooldowns are about to come up.  This is more relevant to someone with long cooldowns like Lux or Brand than it is to someone like Ori or Zyra with short cooldowns, and it's not at all relevant to Cassi or Karthus with virtually no cooldowns.

You have a kiting comp.  Keep your E persistent during the teamfight provided it's high enough level (around 3 or 4 probably).

They have an AoE comp.  Start with your W aura and switch to Q after their AoE is used up.  Similar if you're trying to mitigate damage from someone's burst.  For example, if Mummy is mid-bandage toss to your team, your instinct may be to Q him, but you should actually turn on your W aura before he can ult.  Especially if he's building AP.

You're stomping them.  Just keep Q aura up.

You're taking baron/dragon and you have someone able to tank it easily.  Keep Q persistent; when the cooldown is about .5 seconds from coming back up, W once and then return to Q---or, if mana really isn't a problem, E then W then Q starting exactly a second before Q is about to come up so that you can Q on cd and get another power chord.

You're taking baron/dragon and you don't have someone able to tank it easily.  You want to be Q-chording it on cooldown but keeping your W aura persistent (if possible given mana limitations).  Figure out how to do that based on current number of stacks of power chord; remember getting a power chord resets your AA animation.

In lane, if you're taking a lot of poke, keep W persistent, especially if you didn't take E at 4.  If you're not taking much poke, keep Q persistent.  If you need to be dodging important skillshots like Nid spears or Blitz hooks then keep E persistent.  The default should be to keep Q persistent because (a) it's the one that you're leveling the most and therefore the most efficient in a neutral situation and (b) it will help your ADC lasthit more effectively.

(13)  My ultimate.

This is what most people think of when they think of Sona.  You use your ult for different purposes depending on teamcomps.  If you're fighting something with an important-to-break channel (e.g. Katarina or Galio), and you don't have very much CC to use to stop that ultimate, then your teamcomp is probably bad compared to theirs; but you should try to save your ult to break that channel, unless you have one thousand percent confirmed with your (for example) Garen that he will ONLY use his Q to interrupt the Kat ult and will flash to do so if necessary in which case you should use your ult to initiate.  If you have a Galio or an Amumu or something similar on your team with very good AoE CC also, then you should decide who's going to initiate and then CHAIN YOUR CC WITH THEIRS.  That does NOT mean ult at the same time as Galio ults; it means ult when his ult is about to expire or the instant that somoeone breaks his channel.

In lane, try to hit both the ADC and the support with your ult.  If you can't do that, it's frequently better to ult the support, exhaust the ADC, and then kill the support before the stun wears off---why?  Because the support is typically better at saving people's lives than the ADC is.  You don't want Lulu to be able to ult or Soraka to be able to heal or Janna to be able to tornado and shield and W and ult.  Remember though that your ADC can be exhausted by a stunned support, so make sure that you won't be baited if their exhaust is up.