Kassadin Build Guide by SpinTo
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Recommended Runes + Notes
Early Game + Notes
Masteries + Notes
Welcome to The Void.
Kassadin is an assassin-mage who excels at taking down other AP Carries thanks to his silence via Null Sphere, his slow via Force Pulse and his amazing chasing/escaping utility of Riftwalk.
This guide was inspired after following some of the top Kassadin guides out there and getting three shot by a Tryndamere before I could Riftwalk out. I realized there had to be a way to make Kassadin more survivable without gimping his play.
In this guide I'm focusing on a build that gives you some survivability, enough mana to get the job done, as well as the AP to deal the damage you need to, and CDR to play like a guerrilla jumping in and out with Riftwalk. I've also tried to make sure this guide is realistic for play, and that you'll have the gold to actually build the items you need, when you need them, to scale and be effective throughout the game.
Also, bear in mind this is not a glass cannon build. It's not designed for you to jump in and blow someone up by dumping your abilities on them. It is capable of that, but it's primary purpose is for you to be able to get in and out of team fights and survive, deal a lot of damage, and most importantly be disruptive.
Please remember this is a guide. I feel it works well about 80% of the time, however there are situations in which you need to deviate. Sometimes you need damage. Sometimes you need defense. Build the items you need in the order you need to beat your opponent. Don't build the items just because I suggest them and then complain that the overall concept doesn't work because you failed to be adaptable.
Season 3 Notes
Since Season 3 started I've been making a great effort to become a much more rounded Summoner. As such, I've been playing a lot of other Champs other than Kassadin. While Kassadin is my first love, this guide has not seen the love it so richly deserves (and needs) since the new season begain. However I will soon be setting this right and while I've not yet fully considered the Rune and Mastery options, the updates from Season 2 are in place and I've updated the text of my guide.
Pros / Cons of Kassadin
Pros / Cons of This Guide
Greater Seal of Mana Regeneration
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
9 Greater Mark of Magic Penetration For the much needed magic penetration so you can do what you do and deal damage.
9 Greater Seal of Replenishment To help your early game harass and late game Riftwalking. You can use the per level runes, but with this build, mana isn't an issue late game, so the early boost is better.
9 Greater Glyph of Magic Resist Since we're going to be getting more armor items than magic resist we're going to make up a little bit here.
3 Greater Quintessence of Health To help your early game squishiness.
Note: We'll get enough CDR from Glacial Shroud/ Frozen Heart and Sorcery that cooldown runes are not necessary.
Greater Quintessence of Magic Penetration for the extra magic penetration. There's not a lot in this build. I think it has enough, but if you want more this is a way to get it. I still favor the extra health, because it really helps you be a little more aggressive early game.
This section is still a work in progress for Season 3. I'm currently trying out a more offensive mastery build even though in the past I've favored a defensive build. More details to come later.
Gives us a good way to deal with ADs, by cutting out their damage as well as reducing their magic resist thanks to Summoner's Wrath from the Offensive Mastery tree.
Can be nice to help get into position to gank or possibly get out of a bad situation when your mana is low, but you should always be paying attention to your mana and know how many stacks of Riftwalk you have so that you can get out alive.
Void Stone (passive): This reduces incoming magic damage by 15% and converts it to attack speed. This is the reason we want to build more Armor than Magic Resistance. We're already naturally predisposed to surviving AP attacks.
Null Sphere (Q): This is your bread and butter early game. You're going to use it to harass and last hit. You want to keep your enemy around half health with this ability pre-6 so that when you do hit 6 you'll be primed to Riftwalk in, combo, and start your feasting. The silence on it let's you harass without getting countered if you're laning against an AP Carry. So you can be more aggressive. If you're against an AD Champ, you need to be a little less aggressive and use it primarily to counter-harass (for more details see Laning below). Max this first.
Nether Blade (W): Active, this ability increases your auto-attack damage based on your AP. not a big deal early, although it can help with that early kill. However the passive is the reason you'll want to put a point in this at level 2. The mana regen from auto-attacking isn't great, but it definitely helps with your sustain early, and is worth the point.
Force Pulse (E): This is your fight changer right here. You can turn the tide of a team fight with a Riftwalk in, well placed Force Pulse, and then a Riftwalk out. Once you get it at level 4, you'll want to use your Nether Blade to charge it and keep it active if you aren't going in for a gank. Popping this on a gank attempt against you is too useful to help you get away. You're most likely not going to try and get a kill before level 6 anyway, so there's no reason to not get your point in Nether Blade first, and wait until 4 to grab this.
Tip: If you're smart casting, wait until you've finished Riftwalking and completely reappeared before popping Force Pulse or you're going to cast it behind you every time.
Riftwalk (R): This is what makes Kassadin who he is. Learning how to appropriately use this skill will mean the difference between being a scrub who feeds, or being the most feared character in your game. with 40% CDR, you're able to use this every 2.4 seconds, but be careful because multiple Riftwalks will eat your mana like Cho'Gath on minions.
If you're paying attention, with this build you're going to end up with a 2.6 second silence on Null Sphere and a 2.4 second cooldown on your Riftwalk. This is how you destroy AP Carries. You Riftwalk in, silence them, deal a ton of damage, and get out before they are even able to cast again.
Usually you want to Riftwalk into range, but not on top of enemies to prevent them from hitting you. Some exceptions to this are using Riftwalk to pop Banshee's Veil's bubble so that your silence, slow, and damage are not blocked instead. Another is if you have blue buff with this build you'll have plenty of mana and regen to stack Riftwalk (cast it multiple times to get that extra 120 damage per cast) so that you can absolutely blow someone up. Just make sure you have enough mana to cast it again to get out of danger!
The Core8515 gold
Usually I find a game doesn't make it much past these items, but they give you a good combination of survivability, mana, CDR, and AP. They also snowball, becoming more powerful as the game progresses without the risk of true snowball items like Mejai's Soulstealer.
This raises the question, why not use Mejai's Soulstealer? Yes, Mejai's is a very powerful item, however I'm not a fan of snowball items, because they're very unforgiving of making mistakes. I also don't like playing Kassadin being afraid of death. I feel this build gives me enough AP to get the job done without the risk of mejai's, I prefer the Armor I get from the CDR of Glacial Shroud and Frozen Heart, and quite frankly everyone has bad games and it's easier to come back from mistakes without Mejai's. There are plenty of Mejai-Kass builds out there, but this isn't one of them.
Building Your Core
After that you want to get your Archangel's Staff so you get the mana and AP to deal damage. Now that Archangel's Staff transforms into Seraph's Embrace at full mana build up, it's an even better option than before, giving you a defensive active. Although between building your Tear of the Goddess and before finishing the AA Staff, I suggest you go ahead and get your Sorcerer's Shoes for the extra speed and Magic Pen. After that the Glacial Shroud gives you armor, mana (and AP due to Archangel's passive), and much needed CDR.
At no point during this is an Elixir of Brilliance a waste of gold. The AP and CDR are always welcome. Especially since this build doesn't stack a lot of AP early. In short, unless you're short on cash, pick up some pots throughout the game. You shouldn't be dying much so you should get full use out of them.
Should The Game Continue...
The next item I suggest you build depends a lot on playstyle and preference. All are viable.
|... or ...||
All three allow you the extra edge to get out of a bad situation.
If you're totally steamrolling and/or the enemy team has little to no CC, you can opt out of all of these for Zhonya's Hourglass. The armor of that and Frozen Heart make you damn near untouchable by most AD, and it adds a nice punch of AP, as well as a still fairly handy survival passive. However if you're making enough gold in a game to afford it you probably don't need it, and it should be the last thing you build.
Really? Still not done?
Elixir of Brilliance
If the game still isn't over, remember to grab some Elixirs, like Elixir of Brilliance. You're also a good candidate for an Oracle's Elixir due to your map mobility and survivability to take out those pesky enemy wards.
I believe the math here is all still accurate for Season Three, but I haven't double checked it. If it is off, it's not off by much ( Seraph's Embrace may throw off the final numbers.
Let's say you just completed your Core Item build of Rod of Ages, Sorcerer's Shoes, Archangel's Staff, and Glacial Shroud. What would your Mana and AP be at 18? We'll also assume a measly 250 extra mana from your AA at this point and a full RoA.
Now, let's say your AA is up to 500 extra mana and you've built your Rabadon's Deathcap at this point.
You get this with 2700+ Health, a lot of Physical and Magic Damage Reduction (176 Armor and 105 MR plus your passive and Mastery bonuses), 32% CDR without Elixirs or Golem, 28.55 flat plus 10% Magic Penetration, and 10% Disable Reduction.
This is where you should be. I've included brief statements about playing Kass in other lanes, but unless you're very low Elo, sub-30, or want to be hated by your teammates, play the Meta and take Kass mid.
Last hitting with Kassadin is tough, because you are melee against range usually. In order to last hit you need to be aggressively poking with Null Sphere. You did take Nether Blade at level 2 didn't you? Because that really helps with your mana sustain to poke like you need to so you can get in and last hit. You basically want to counter poke with Null Sphere and take advantage of the silence to get last hits.
Basically, levels 1-5 have two purposes. First, you need last hits, and a lot of them. Secondly, you are setting up your first kill at level 6. You want your opponent to be a little under half health so that as soon as you hit 6 you can Riftwalk in for the kill. Sometimes this means you're going to want to hold off on harassing at level 5 a bit so they don't go back and push out a little. Scaring them off prevents you from getting fed.
It doesn't take much to be overextended against Kassadin. If they're midway and at half health you should be able to poke once more with Null Sphere, back off, wait for your CD on Null Sphere to be up again then Riftwalk in, E + W + Q (in this order to start recharging your Force Pulse). If necessary, Exhaust and/or Ignite as needed to secure your kill.
After you secure your first kill, you should finish off your current minion wave so you go MIA. If you absolutely have to B, do so, but if you can go to top or bottom and gank wherever is most ripe, you should be able to get your team an early lead. You're going to want to continue pushing mid back and roaming between lanes at this point to give your team the advantage.
At no time should you ever forget to keep up your CS (Creep Score). I cannot stress enough how important it is to ABC: Always Be Creeping. Depending on what stage of the game you're in, two waves of creeps is nearly equivalent to a Champion kill. Remember that. Write it down. Last hit everything.
Other champs that provide issues are those with good sustain, such as Fiddlesticks or Vladimir. Fiddle you can run out of mana if you force him to drain his health back enough, but Vlad you just have to keep poking. He makes for a slow back and forth lane, but he hates your silence. Make sure you get last hits (again, use Null Sphere if you have to), and try to keep his Transfusion on minions not you.
Solo Top 1v1
Solo Top 1v2
Results (Score Screens and Clips)
Short game play video with commentary:
Later in the same game, a near-miss on a pentakill:
Note that I skipped the Quicksilver Sash in this video. Quite frankly, the enemy team was not effectively CCing despite having Rammus, Morgana, and Janna and it just wasn't necessary.
Rammus did however have Spirit Visage, Force of Nature, Banshee's Veil, and Warmog's Armor which is why he was so hard to take down.
Full Game Video
This game is far from perfect and I'm not proud of my CS at all, but I made up for it with a lot of kills, and it's a pretty entertaining match that I end up 28/4/12. You'll see a lot of what you should do as a Kassadin, and a few times you'll see what not to do.
Pay attention early for me to fail to watch my mana and miss a gank on Pantheon at top because of it. Also, I get greedy a couple times and it costs me and/or my team. The Anivia in mid played poorly and allowed me to dominate this game.
Thanks for reading. This is my first guide and I'm still making edits to it (and always will be). I feel comfortable with the actual item build, as well as the choices of Runes, Masteries, and Summoner Spells. Later I'll add more, but this is the basic build, and it is pretty devastating.
I feel this build compensates for Kassadin's weak early-game, gets him what he needs to have a solid mid-game, and by end-game you'll have plenty of AP, Mana, Armor, and CDR. You should be blowing up just about everything and getting out without being touched much. Following this you should make people cuss and rage, and you'll have a blast doing it.
If you disagree with something I said in the guide, please first remember that while I believe this is a well rounded guide, it is only a guide and may not work in all situations. Secondly, please leave me a comment before voting down and give me the option to review the fact that you may be a better and smarter player than I am and give me a chance to change the guide and make it better. If I still refuse and don't change the guide, feel free to flame and downvote. I'm a big boy, I can take it, and if you need to vent, get it out!
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