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Note: This guide assumes you follow the exact Rune, Master, and Item build. Play-Style may vary.
Sona is pure support, who is best at strengthening allies, while also weakening enemies. She is especially good to have in team fights, however, she is very squishy. I play Sona as an AD Carry, specializing in destroying enemies with damage and critical strikes, as well as chasing and cleaning up after fights.
Thanks to OdysseusL and KirinAyame for build tips and the very concept of AD Sona.
OverviewNote: This guide is revolved around Classic Mode. Dominion mode may be similar, but results may not be the same.
Sona does surprisingly well as an AD Carry, for several reasons. The most significant is her passive, which triggers every 3rd ability Sona uses. Each ability (except for her ultimate) gives Power Chord a different effect. Her Q is also a very stellar poking ability, an auto-targetting, champion-prioritizing ability that gives you bonus AP and AD. Her ultimate is good for the stun-lock, as well. Sona is also quite mobile with her E, but do note that it isn't the best escape ability (unless your passive is up, in which case you can slow).
I take Flash and Ignite as my summoner spells. Sona has no solid CC, other than her brief ult stun and innate E, thus it's a bit hard to close gaps quickly. E doesn't do as much as it can if you can't land that auto-attack. Ingite is great for finishing off enemy champs for the kill. Use this in conjunction with a Q + passive + flash combo and there will be no escape! If your feeling confident, you could also take Exaust instead of Flash. Cleanse are also nice options when duo bot lane, and Heal if your not feeling very confident.
Power Chord Explanation
Sona's passive is Power Chord. As stated above, it will trigger every 3rd ability. However, the effect depends on which aura is currently active when her next auto-attack is used. For instance, if you use W and her power chord becomes ready, you may tap Q after and power chord will take on the effect of that ability, rather than W.
What Power Chord exactly does is three things. When used with her Q, Hymn of Valor, it will deal double power chorde damage. Power chord scales on it's own for magic damage: 8 + (10 × level). It adds onto your physical damage, and is good for unexpected burst. When used with her W, Aria of Perseverance, her next auto-attack will deal the magic damage, while also giving the unit hit a damage debuff. They will deal 20% less damage while the debuff is on, and it lasts for 4 seconds. Finally, when used with her E, Song of Celerity, the target will be slowed by 40% for 2 seconds. This is great for chasing and being chased, and it deals magic damage like the rest. One interesting thing is if Sona has built enough attack speed, Power Chord can trigger twice! You have to be at maximum attack range, however, and building Attack Speed Sona is generally not a good idea.
Exploiting Power ChordIn order to effectively play AD Sona, you must exploit and/or abuse power chord as much as possible. Harass your opponents with Q and save your next auto for a good slap to the champion's face. What I do is I take Q at level 1 and activate it twice, charging my power chord two times. This is so that on my third cast of Q, I can deal lots of unexpected damage to the enemy. Take advantage of how underestimated you are, especially if you mid lane, like me. AD Sona is an early gamer, so you want to remember this when laning. What you want to do at the start of the game is play agressive, but not too agressive (watch for the jungler, unless you're thirsting for a double kill). The enemy mid laner will almost certainly understimate you, so go right up to them and take a hit, while you tap Q and hit them with that double power chord damage. You will likely do more damage than them. After this, play aggressive and safe, don't push too hard unless they have no jungler or your sure you can take the turret and no one is going to arrive in time to stop you.
Poking with QEven though you are not building AP Sona (which is also quite nice), Hymn of Valor's range is excellent at poking. It auto targets the closest two units, and even prioritizes champions if one is in range. Keep moving unpredictably in the lane, taking the usual precautions to who you are mid against. Use Q whenever possible, and farm as much as you can, you will usually be able to out-farm the AP Carry who is against you. On some occasions, Akali or Miss Fortune will be mid against you, which is quite alright, because they will underestemate you even more (just be careful of the stealth). Remember to save your power chord! A good 1 - 2 combo with Q and an auto-attack will always keep the enemy at bay! When in a 1v1 situation other than in the lane, Q may vary in the right choice. If you are quite low, but the enemy is also low, use Hymn of Valor to finish them off before they kill you. However, if things are looking a bit on their side, hit them with a W + attack combo. You will troll with that heal and they will have reduced damage output, while you come out from under!
Sustain and Anti-Escape, W & ESona's healing ability is great for early game sustain, since you probably do not have solid life-steal yet. However, W is the ability you will most likely use the least when you get your Infinity Edge with your already bought Vampiric Scepter. Use it if you are near death and can't attack anything, or in a 1v1 situation against an opponent who is about to kill you. Champions like Viktor, Brand, and Annie will give you quite a hard time due to their CCs, and Viktor out-ranges your Q by quite a bit. If you feel you are having trouble, play safe and W only when you really need to heal. Use Q to get some farm from afar and try to get a passive in, if you can.
Your E is a fantastic gap-closer when chasing, if you can hit the said runner. It's slow can make a big difference and you can use this to catch the enemy off guard when you suddenly appear from the brush. This can be also used when running as well, since you are ranged. It can save you from things like Tryndamere and Nasus' slow. Use it wisely, and be sure to know when Q or E is best.
AD Sona is like AD Kennen, in an ultimate ability perspective. You take the ult for the stun instead of the damage. Even when playing Support Sona, the damage isn't the best. The stun lasts 1.5 seconds, which may not seem like much, but can turn around a bad situation if used right! It is especially great for baiting over champions into turrets. If Fiddlesticks comes at you with his ultimate and begins to drain you, don't hesitate to throw this at him and show that you are serious. It's cooldown is fairly decent, as well. The stun is always key. It can easily be smart-casted because of it's huge range, and will catch all runners! If you are feeling confident, bait in the jungler for a lucrative double kill. Just know, however, that the stun doesn't last forever, and beware of people with a spell shield! Your passive is blocked by them as well, so pop it with Q first.
Sona's early game is her strongest, so you want to harass your opponents as much as possible. Taking mid is always a fair option, but especially so if Veigar or Kassadin is mid lane as well. If not, you want to go with someone who is not the carry, but has hard CC, such as Nunu or Sion. AD Sona and a support such as Lulu or Soraka is a great duo lane as well. Poke with your Q and remember the 1-2 Q-Attack combo. Sona needs to be farmed, so get as much CS as you can. You will want to out-farm your opponent as much as possible, and make sure that you get kills whenever you can. All the items in your build have high costs, so you need the gold. Getting a Heart of Gold is not recommended. Ask your jungler if you can have Red Buff as well, and leave the Blue Buff for your AP or Tank.
People who are against you will most certainly underestimate you, so take advantage of this. use your stun-locking techniques to bait the enemy into the turret when you are low, but never over-estemate yourself. Remember than even though you are AD, silences used at the right time against you can turn things around, such as when you are mashing W. If you are giving mid lane a hard time, but have not killed them yet, you are giving the jungler more and more chances to gank you. Never over-extend in mid lane at early game. if the jungler does come to gank, immediately hit E and run, slowing them if possible. Your passive + E is very effective against Hecarim and Rammus. If the jungler happens to be quite cocky and is at less than 40% HP, go ahead and stomp their faces. Your ultimate's range is huge, so make sure to catch both the mid-laner and the ganker in it. It's entirely possible to get a double kill, and even first blood among it.
If you have played right, Sona is very exceptional in mid game, too. You likely have Infinity Edge by now and should be working on your Bloodthirster. Your auto-attacks give you at least 20 HP back if you're using the build that is assumed here, so you will be healing much less. The laning phase is probably coming to and end and you'd do well to push the turret a bit. Remember to keep your map-awareness high, and place wards if need be. If you see that no one is MIA and the jungler is either dead or ganking another lane, you are free to push the turret. Getting Dragon is also not a bad idea, and by the time you have your Blood Thirster, you could probably even solo it.
If things aren't going well, you just have to survive. Keep your kill/death ratio decent and get what ever gold you can. If your opponent is out-playing you, then don't take any chances and deny them kills. CS goes a long way, so if anything, get as much CS as possible. Even if you have more deaths, keeping your minion farm higher will eventually turn things around by the later mid game. If you are dying excessively, stay back and turret hug so that you do not feed the enemy mid/bot. A Fed LeBlanc or Veigar is never fun. Also, keep your cool when playing AD Sona. Only about 40% of the LoL community knows it's actually legit, and the enemy will most likely be a but puzzled, too. You can prove them wrong.
Sona begins to fall late game, because her ratios are not the best. She is still very good, however, if you have played smart all game. You have all the BF Sword items and are probably working on Maw of Malmortius right now. if you are fed, not many people will be able to stop you because of how much Life-Steal and damage you have. Do not hesitate to keep fighting if you are being hammered, but know the limits of your life-steal and W. You only have 20 AP from your Q, so abilities are only for the extra punch at this phase of the game. Even if you aren't fed, someone else on your team likely is, so it is best try and get the last hits. Baron is wise to pick up if things are at a stale mate. If turrets are low, you can most likely tank their hits and take it down. Yoy have about 400 AD and your critical strike is boosted to 250% from Infinity Edge, so your crits almost always are above 1000. Remember who to focus, and don't under/overestimate yourself!
If you are still not rising, then chances are, you should let your other AP or AD Carry do the dirty work. Continue building and fight when ever you can. Assists are just as good as kills if you have high CS. If you lack CS, then you are in trouble, because this is the time where AD Sona begins to fall. Don't get desperate and sacrifice your life for a KS, and remember that Ingite can help you get kills off of runners. Flash over walls if you are in a dire situation, and spam that E and slow. You are a janitor at this point, so if they are low after team-fights, hit them as much as you can. Your crits still do at least 800 damage, and it's worth something.
Building AD Sona
What you want for Runes are lots of Damage and Armor Penetration. I take Flat Damage Seals, Glyphs, and Quintescenses, and reserving Marks for Armor Penetration. This way I have a strong early game and dominate my lane, out-farming AP Carries and Melees by 15 or 20.
My masteries are 21/0/9, taking offensive AD, as well as Movement Speed. This also gives me early game strength, like my Rune page.
Assuming you have the Runes and Masteries above, take a Doran's Blade. Activate your Q and you have a grand total of 81 AD at level 1! After you've farmed up, and maybe even gotten a kill or two, take another Doran's Blade, along with a Vampiric Scepter and Berzerker's Greaves. Once you have these four items, start rushing Infinity Edge. This will give you huge critical strikes and overall damage. Start with the cape that gives critical strike, and then the BF Sword. Of course, if you can get BF first, go ahead and do that. Finish Trinity Force and get your other BF Sword items. Since you have a Vampiric Scepter already, buy a Bloodthirster for more damage and Life-Steal. Sometimes Wriggle's Lantern isn't a bad idea if you lack money for wards, but it should be switched out for something else if circumstances change.
At this point, your build will start depending on the current situation more. For now, assume that you are fed enough to carry well or greater. Start building Black Cleaver to add to your damage, along with the greater attack speed. By now, the laning phase is most likely over, but the enemy AP Carry is likely after your hide. Magic resist is always good, so get Maw of Malmortius. The passive shield is one of the most trolling shields in the game. People like Malzahar and Lux will have a harder time killing you, and you will probably need the shield to survive ultimates like theirs.
If you team hasn't won by now, go ahead and get a second Bloodthirster, and switch out your boots for a Phantom Dancer. On rare occasions, switching out one Bloodthirster for another IE is also an option. Last Whisper is great if the enemy has built quite a bit of Armor.
Special CircumstancesOn special circumstances, you build may be different. If the enemy team is AP heavy, you should get your Maw of Malmortius before Black Cleaver. This is especially wise if they have AP Assassins like LeBlanc or Ahri, whom of which can burst you down very quickly before you can. If someone like Urgot or Malzahar is causing you quite a bit of trouble, a Quicksilver Sash is a good option for Sona, along with other AD Carries. The shield is stronger than you think, and until you get this item, you are a very fragile Glass Cannon. Even though it's up to your team to protect the carry, sometimes things can get hectic. It's always better safe than sorry, and when your a fed AD Sona, you will likely get focused down. Another common instance is a tanky enemy team. If the enemy team is building significantly tanky, you will need to get Madred's Bloodrazors. Whether you get it before or after Black Cleaver depends on the urgency, but people like Nasus and Renekton can really ruin your day if they come out with their ultimates. Lulu is a special case danger, too. Keep in mind that this is probably the most expensive item in your build, or at least it will seem like it if your lacking kills because the enemies can survive you.
Countering AD Sona
If you are against an AD Sona (and not AD Sona yourself), there are key weaknesses that you can take advantage of.
The best way to counter AD Sona is to out-range her and prevent her from getting CS. She needs to get fed as an AD Carry, so even if you can't stand up to her, denying her kills and making her get greedy is a great way to out-play her. Give her a good stomp to the face if she tries to come near, and build armor so you can survive her auto-attacks. This is your lane, so make it yours. Zoning AD Sona out will impact the entire game. A good gank can also scare her off if she's pushing too much, as Sona has no solid escape spells. Beware of her passive, and if she is following my build, the flash should be heavily feared.
The Bigger Fish
Sona is no match for other champions that can out play her. All champs have the capability to do this, but there are some main ones. Viktor's range is the best for zoning her out, and the slow-stun is also very effective. Remember that until she gets her Bloodthirster, she is a glass cannon, so smash her into pieces when you can. Annie is also a hard counter to her, since she has a power passive stun that can lock her up before she can do anything. Brand also possesses a stun, however, the heavy AoE and DoT gives AD Sona hard time. Along with Brand, champions with ultimates that lock onto champions work especially well, since it will leave any flash useless. Be mindful of a Banshee's Veil Sona may get, though.
Skilled LeBlancs and Veigars can give Sona a run for her money, but Veigar's ult is best saved for the AP carry that is with her. Sona is helpless without her E and R to run away, and relies on intimidation. If you can stun-lock her, or even suppress her, it can change things around. Unexpected ganks are effective for locking her up, but make sure not to give yourself away by suddenly changing to an aggressive play-style. Ahri can charm Sona and burst her down well, and her ultimate can finish her off even after she flashes and/or stuns you.
Durability & Survival
The last, yet not least best counter is durability. If you can deal with the abuse and harass Sona gives, you can pretty much dominate her. Graves is the hardest counter to her, as he is very durable, has a gap-closer, and a hard-to-dodge ultimate. Rumble is the best melee option against AD Sona, due to his movement speed buff and shield. His AoE is quite nice in shutting AD Sona down, and she will most likely get cocky from the fact that you ar a melee. Exploit her weak points and lure her in, or she will do that to you. Nasus and Renekton can leave Sona helpless due to their gap-closers and heavy tankiness.