Bard is one of the most unique champions in League of Legends. You need to be very proficient in the it to be effective. Any lower level of play is just impractical in increasing your chances of winning the game. However, AD Bard works in a different manner.
Normally Bard is a Support champion that makes items fitting for the role. It is also not uncommon to see ability power Bards as the champion benefits from ability power appreciatively. Both of those function in a similar manner that they rely on landing perfect “Cosmic Bindings”. The attack damage Bard build allows you to do damage without relying on that.
There are different schools of thought when it comes to AD Bard builds. Some builds double down on the ADC build path with crit and attack speed. Some people like to go for hybrid builds with a combination of ability power and attack damage. There are also some popular on-hit builds.
Which of these builds is the most effective? This is the most obvious question that comes to mind when you realize there are multiple build paths. Before we can answer that question, we need to know what these builds consist of. We will now discuss these builds in detail.
As there are different build paths, there are also different rune pages you can make. There are two optimum rune pages one can make when following the AD Bard play style. Neither of these pages is wrong to follow, however, they can vary from game to game depending on the enemy team.
One of the rune pages you can go for is Precision as your primary choice. Lethal Tempo is the best pick for the keystone. Fleet Footwork is a contender for the keystone choice but it is only good if you are against an enemy bot lane that has a lot of poke. In all other cases, Tempo is more effective.
You follow this up with the “Triumph” rune and the “Legend: Alacrity”. The page is rounded off with “Coup De Grace”. You can go for “Cut Down” instead when the enemy has a lot of tanks of health-stacking bruiser champions.
The secondary page is where things can get confusing. There are three pages that you can have as your secondary with the Lethal Tempo keystone. First of all, you can go for the Domination page with “Cheap Shot” and “Relentless Hunter”.
You can go for “Magical Footwear” coupled with “Biscuits Delivery” from the Inspiration page as your secondary. This is mostly for the lane and gives you additional sustain options while not having to invest in the Fleetwork keystone. The last option is going for the Sorcery page with “Manaflow Band” and “Gathering Storm”.
The other option you can go for the rune page is the Domination page as primary. This is complemented by taking either Sorcery or in some cases Inspiration as your secondary page. Electrocute is your keystone of choice to go for in this rune page route.
Electrocute is followed by “Cheap Shot”, “Eyeball Collection” and “Relentless Hunter”. These are simply the best rune choices in the Domination page for Bard. In the secondary rune page, you have the choice of going either Sorcery or Inspiration.
If you go for Sorcery, your runes are “Manaflow Band” coupled with either “Transcendence” or “Gathering Storm”. While for the Inspiration page it is again the combination of “Magical Footwear” and “Biscuits Delivery”.
An interesting thing about this rune path is that this is one of Bard’s most ideal setups. Even if you wish to play Support or make ability power, Electrocute is one of the best choices. This is because of the burst damage it gives. This champion has good burst damage on its own, add Electrocute to it, and you even have kill threat possibilities.
Item Build Paths
Now that we have the rune setup covered, we can move on to the in-game build pathing. As mentioned earlier, there are different build setups being played by Bard enthusiasts, which we will discuss below.
ADC Build Path
This is the build path where you take playing AD Bard to a new level. You start off by taking the “Doran’s Blade” or if you are feeling especially confident then “Cull” is also an option. Taking the “Doran’s Ring” is also an option if you wish to solidify your laning.
Your Mythic or Core item will be “Kraken Slayer” in this build. Kraken Slayer is followed by “Rapid Firecannon” and “Infinity Edge”. With your critical strike damage enhanced to the maximum, you can now move on to making survivability items.
These mainly include “Bloodthirster” for Lifesteal. You can make “Guardian Angel” for physical damage threats. For ability power threats you have the “Wits End” as well as “Maw of Malmortius” as the best options. If you already have Lifesteal, you can buy “Spirit Visage” to enhance the healing as well as give you magic resistance.
If the enemy team has tanks or champions that are stacking defense items, you need to deal with that as well. In this case, you will make “Lord Dominik’s Regard ”, often called “LDR” or even the “Blade of the Ruined King” to deal with high-health enemy champions.
Hybrid Build Path
In the hybrid build path, your starting items are much the same. Although, “Doran’s Ring” is probably the preferred item in this case. Your Mythic item is the biggest confusing point of this build. You can go for the “Kraken Slayer” as well as the “Ludens Echo”.
Both of these are fine choices. Having said that, this is a guide for AD Bard builds and so we will follow the “Kraken Slayer” setup. Your next couple of items will be “Nashor’s Tooth” and “Rapid Firecannon”. These are often followed by getting a “Deadman’s Plate. This item is extremely useful for Bard.
The Deadman’s Plate can be considered one of the core items for this champion. The bonus movement speed and damage on the first attack synchronize seamlessly with Bard’s kit. You finish off the build by getting a Blade of the Ruined King or even a penetration item.
The penetration item is dependent on the build you have made. If you have gone for the attack damage route, you will make armor penetration with LDR. If you have made Ludens Echo you need to buy Void Staff. This is because your damage type changes as you change the items in the hybrid build.
The On-Hit Build Path
“On-Hit” damage is basically the bonus damage your attacks do when they hit the enemy. These are not the same as critical strikes. Their damage is defined, and there is no chance of doing bonus damage. You do the bonus damage on every attack that connects with the enemy.
In this build path, your main focus is to get items that give you two things; on-hit and attack speed. For Bard, the build ends up looking something like this. Kraken Slayer, Rapid Firecannon, Nashor’s Tooth, and Blade of the Ruined King. For the last item, you have a choice between defensive and offensive.
For defensive items, again, you have the option of Guardian Angel, Deadman’s Plate, or Maw of Malmortius. If you wish to go for more damage, you can make Wits End for magic resistance as well as damage. LDR is a good option if you need armor penetration.
You can change up the build by removing Nashor’s Tooth and making Wits End instead. In this way, you have more options to go for in your last item slot. Moreover, Wits End provides its own on-hit damage and attack speed as well. You are not losing any damage by going for this item.
Of course, with how versatile Bard is as a champion, there are numerous changes in the build paths. In the aforementioned builds, we have included the most tried and tested approaches to full attack damage-focused Bard play style.
For the question of which build is the best, it depends on the team compositions of both your team as well as the enemy team. That is a plus point of playing versatile champions such as Bard in carry roles. You are not limited to going for specific builds. You can build according to the situation.
For example, if your team is focused on attack damage, you can go for the hybrid build with Ludens Echo to provide magic damage. The enemy team now cannot just stack armor as they would have otherwise. In the same manner, if your team is ability power heavy, you should go for the ADC style build.
Having said that, if you wish to know the best build for Bard in most cases, it would be the hybrid build or the on-hit build. These builds just work best for the champion. The ADC build is not ideal. His kit does not support those items as it does with the other two build paths.