Cassiopeia Build Guide by cheste
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Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Quick Summary (TL;DR version)
Pros and Cons:
- High SUSTAINED AP damage
- AoE game-changing ultimate
- Extremely, extremely fragile with no escape skill
- Will die to melee fighters who can close the gap immediately (like Nocturne, Xin Zhao), burst assassins (i.e. LeBlanc), melee assassins ( Evelyn, Akali), silencers ( Kassadin, Fiddlesticks)
- Landing your Twin Fang too early will cost you dearly (more on this later)
- Steep learning curve
Core Item Build:
Lvl 1 > 2 > 3 - Noxious Blast then Twin Fang or Miasma alternately
Then max Noxious Blast, next Twin Fang, lastly Miasma
Get Petrifying Gaze whenever you can
Hey everyone, my name is cheste this is my first LoL guide.
I've been playing Cassiopeia for a while now primarily because she's the only female caster that I grew comfortable with. I only play LoL females and Cassiopeia fit my play style perfectly. Morgana and Lux have good zoning capabilities and a skillshot snare but their ultimates are 1 shot wonders. LeBlanc requires ganking and roaming to be effective (and she can't solo the dragon). Sona, Janna and Karma are better off as support heroes and can't carry a poorly performing team. I can never consider Nidalee, Katarina and Akali as mages (even though they build AP). So that left me with Cass. She's (imo) a very capable AP carry because of her ridiculous sustained AP DPS, can solo the dragon at her own leisure, can get any blue or red aura if she desired, and is a freakin' snake.
I wrote this guide out of love for the snake lady, and from where I'm from, I rarely see Cassiopeia players. She's underused unlike the omgwtf 102319824 Tryndameres out there. Likewise I wrote this guide to stress an alternative way of playing Cass (as a glass cannon). Please give it a try and don't downrate it off the bat just because the build is a bit unorthodox.
I hope after reading this guide somehow more people start playing Katarina's cooler little sister.
Onto the guide!
Pros and Cons
The good things about Cassiopeia
- High sustained AP DPS
Her main source of damage comes from Twin Fang (more on this later). Cassiopeia's DPS isn't bursty like LeBlanc or Akali. Nor is her sustained DPS like Katarina's Death Lotus-esque 1 skill omgwtfpwn. When played right, and if ignored in a team clash, Cassiopeia can dish out devastating damage.
- Relatively long range skills
Her Noxious Blast (Q) and Miasma (W) have relatively long ranges. If you're familiar with Karthus, her Noxious Blast becomes quite a simple thing to land. People underestimate the damage of her Q early. Coupled with her passive Deadly Cadence, you can harass any hero to kingdom come with her Q alone.
- Petrifying Gaze
This skill is so damned awesome it needs a bullet point of its own. One of the better and versatile ultimates in the game if it wasn't for the fact that it's so hard to position yourself to use. This ultimate actually works against Cassiopeia because of her extreme fragility, but if you land it on 2 heroes it's good enough. Land it on 5 and you've effectively won a clash.
The bad things about Cassiopeia
- Fragile, fragile, fragile
Cassiopeia has no viable escape skill other than her Petrifying Gaze (in which case, if you've used it to run away, you've **kinda** wasted it). Her Miasma early game doesn't slow enough to let you flee ganks on the onset. Although her Noxious Blast speeds her up (if she hits someone with it), she needs to stop for a split second to land it, which means more time for her enemy to catch up. Assassins will eat her alive, Until you get your Rylai's Crystal Scepter, she has no way of getting away from chasers like Udyr or Singed. Other than Flash, she has to kill the one chasing her or die in the process.
- Twin Fang is a ***** to use
Ahh Twin Fang. If you hit a hero with this while poisoned, the cooldown is refreshed from 5 seconds to 0.5 seconds. Although on paper this looks awesome, remember that the spell animation needs to hit first before the refresh actually activates, and it will only activate IF the enemy you hit is poisoned. Likewise, using this without Smart Cast is a like eating pasta, from the boiler while scalding hot, with your bare hands, on the edge of a volcano.
- Steep learning curve
Cassiopeia is not newbie friendly. Her Noxious Blast requires anticipation, her Twin Fang requires a level of proficiency in smart-casting, her Petrifying Gaze can be easily juked out of. In clashes you will need a level head to quickly assess the situation and shut down the enemy carry WHO WILL MOST PROBABLY aim for you if you've acquired your core. Without any escape skill she's very, VERY susceptible to death if people know how deadly she is. You will need ample practice to master her.
Whenever Cassiopeia casts a skill, her next skill costs 10% less mana for 5 seconds, stacking up to 5 times.
This is a pretty awesome passive for Cass (early game), considering how she'll be spamming her skills to farm, harass, brush check, grab buffs, kill dragon, and kill heroes. In a regular clash, opening with Petrifying Gaze then casting Noxious Blast, Miasma and 2-3 Twin Fangs in quick succession jacks up the stacks to an immediate 4-5, immediately solving your already nonexistent mana problems. With my item build, you'll never need to go back to base ever again with her.
When people say that they rarely have mana issues with Cass, that is due to this passive. But the passive alone cannot sustain you for a clash + extended push mid-end game. Although this passive helps, it works with conjunction with my item build to maximize your efficiency and lane staying power even more.
A skill shot (similar to Karthus's Lay Waste) DoT (damage over time) that poisons the enemy while speeding you up. Both effects last for 3 seconds.
- Cost: 35 / 45 / 55 / 65 / 75 mana
- Total Magic Damage: 75 / 115 / 155 / 195 / 235 (+0.9 per ability power)
- Movement Speed Boost: 15 / 17.5 / 20 / 22.5 / 25 %
- Cooldown: 3 seconds throughout all levels
- Range: 850
- Skill AoE Radius: 150
This skill has an amazing AP ratio hence it's practical to max it early on. With an early Tear of the Goddess you're sure to max out your mana by the time you've finished your Rabadon's Deathcap. Other builds suggest maxing out Twin Fang first, and I've already gone down that route, it's highly effective as well. Due to your relative fragility and mana issues early game, you shouldn't be spamming Twin Fang too much during the laning phase. Instead you should focus on farming and harassing with your Noxious Blast. This skill alone can force your enemy to retreat and force upon him an early game level gap. Likewise you can use it to farm the ranged creeps at level 4-5 of the skill. You can also use this to brush check. If you gain the buff, you hit someone with it. Nifty huh?
Likewise, for lack of Ignite I suggest against maxing Twin Fang early. During the laning phase and spilling onto mid game, you should focus on farming for your core with a high leveled Noxious Blast and assisting in clashes with Petrifying Gaze.
An AoE skill that starts out small and grows larger outwards in a slow manner. Enemies that stand over it are slowed and poisoned. The AoE lasts 7 seconds. Continual exposure renews the poison effect.
- Cost: 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 / 110 mana
- Magic Damage Per Second: 25 / 35 / 45 / 55 / 65 (+0.15 per ability power)
- Slow: 15 / 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 %
- Cooldown: 9 seconds throughout all levels
- Range to Center of AoE: 850
- Radius of Aoe: 100-175
If you have difficulty landing a poison for your Twin Fang, this is the skill to use. It has a larger radius, its poison application is immediate (unlike Noxious Blast's slight delay), it lasts for 7 seconds. You can likewise use this skill to brush check as it gives sight on cast. It also slows enemies down, so cast it on your escape route to slow enemies down. This skill is also a strong zoning tool, not because of its damage, but because when they step into that poison you can Twin Fang them to kingdom come. In clashes, cast this on the area where multiple enemies will be rooted for long (like after a Petrifying Gaze, Crescendo or Curse of the Sad Mummy). The main thrust of this spell is the amount of people you can catch with 1 cast, not the damage.
This can also be a safe-guard for yourself. Fighting against blinkers or enemies that can close the gap immediately like Jax or Xin Zhao, instead of casting Miasma on top of them, cast it on top of yourself. Make them think twice of hitting you so that once the poison is applied, Twin Fang them to no end.
Single target nuke that refreshes its cooldown whenever you hit a hero that has a poison applied to them
- Cost: 50 / 60 / 70 / 80 / 90 mana
- Magic Damage: 60 / 95 / 130 / 165 / 200 (+0.55 per ability power)
- Range: 700
- Cooldown: 5 seconds on target without poison, 0.5 seconds on targets with poison applied to them
This skill is where Cassiopeia's DPS comes from. although it only has a 0.55 AP conversion ratio, because of its near nonexistent cooldown, this is the skill that will shred squishies to bits. Usually in clashes, with smart-casting enabled, you'll be jamming down on your E repeatedly on all targets standing on your Miasma. The cooldown is refreshed once the animation hits the enemy hero. Likewise the spell is only effective if you hit an enemy hero with a poison applied to them. And this means any poison. Imagine a Singed or Teemo team up.
The only downside to this skill is once you've gotten the hang of spamming E on poisoned enemies, if you happen to NOT poison an enemy and/or ACCIDENTALLY press E especially during a crucial time, you've just signed your death warrant. In cases like these, rely on Miasma for the poison application, not Noxious Blast. especially when fighting melee heroes. Remember that Noxious Blast has a slight delay. And if you press Q and E in fast succession there are times (and I've experienced this before) that my E landed faster than my Q, resulting in my death (against a Jarvan IV no less). This only applies when the heroes are in your face, hence my emphasis on blinkers and melee heroes.
Cone AoE spell that deals damage, stuns (turns into stone) enemies facing her for 2 seconds, and slows those who aren't facing her for 60% for 2 seconds.
- Cost: 120 / 160 / 200 mana
- Cooldown: 130 / 120 / 110 seconds
- Magic Damage: 200 / 325 / 450 (+0.6 per ability power)
- Range: 850
- Stun: 2 seconds
- Slow: 60%
- Cone Angle: ~83º
This is a kick-*** ultimate. Other than the fact that it stuns those who face you, it applies a ridiculous slow to those who aren't. It has excellent utility in clashes, and most of the time when you land this on a whole group of enemies it means GG for them. A 2 second AoE stun isn't something to scoff at. Best used when you're in brush, when people least expect it, just like a damn snake in the tall grass. Use it liberally as well, to simply even the scales or tip it in your favor.
The downsides to this skill is it requires you to be dangerously close to the fray for it to be effective. All your spells have long ranges, but if you want to turn the tide in a single spell, Petrifying Gaze is the best way to do it.
What differentiates a good Cassiopeia from a great Cassiopeia is when to land, on who to land, and how to land this ultimate. I would much rather save the squishy carries on the back row by landing my gaze on 1 overfed anti-carry rather than casting my gaze on all 4 tanks up front. Although her main damage comes from her Twin Fang, it is the situational use of this skill that defines a great Cassiopeia.
Note: This does not stop Katarina's Death Lotus even if she's facing you prior to activation. I hate her for that.
Summoner Spells, Masteries and Runes
The 9/0/21 setup is basic for all casters. You can opt for 0/9/21 for more survivability, but in the end it's all a matter of preference.
Standard setup for AP casters, save for a few differences:
Marks: Greater Mark of Magic Penetration is your basic magic penetration runes, effective for all casters
Seals: Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration is for your mana regen needs if you don't have monopoly over blue buff
Glyphs: Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power is for your end-game ability power
Quints: Greater Quintessence of Ability Power is for an early game advantage. You can opt for
Greater Quintessence of Health if you want a bit more health. It's a matter of preference.
Flash is a no brainer. Nearly all high level play involves flash because of its versatility. You can set up near-perfect Gazes with this skill alone, and likewise escape a gank with this skill alone as well.
Cassiopeia has excellent lane control. in a 1-1-2-1 setup, she can handle the 1v2 role bcause of her zoning capabilities and long-range skill shots. Granted she needs to tower hug, and can stop possible ambushes at the tower with her Petrifying Gaze. She can also clear other lanes that are being segued with just her AoE spells, and is an okay duelist to boot. With Teleport Cassiopeia is a farming and map control queen, hence Teleport is a good utility spell for her. Imo Ignite falls off late game, or requires her to be closer than normal for her to land it.
Some people opt for Ignite, and that is all well and respectable. If you're hungry for the kills, I'd say why not? Likewise, Exhaust is a good summoner spell on Cass because she can be the anti-carry, killing them before they kill her. Ghost isn't as good a skill is to Cass as it is to others (like Singed and Vladimir) although still very much viable.
I cringe whenever I see Clarity, Heal, Revive on Cassiopeia. With my item build all these stats are accounted for (except Revive, you shouldn't really be dying anyway). Smite, Rally, Fortify are wasted on Cassiopeia. Clairvoyance as well, because she isn't a support hero, and your Miasma can brush check for you already. Cleanse is viable, but because Cassiopeia is too fragile, you're better off not being disabled at all, or opt for a Quicksilver Sash instead.
For the purposes of this guide however, I'll run with the Flash Teleport combo.
What is Smart Casting?
You know how Cassiopeia's Noxious Blast immediately activates wherever your cursor is pointed at? Imagine if you apply that same effect to your Twin Fang.
Basically, instead of (1) clicking E (which is your Twin Fang) then (2) left clicking the hero, you can opt to hover your cursor over the hero and press E to automatically cast it on that hero. It cuts the 2 step casting scheme (targetting and execution) into 1, which is deathly important when you play as Cassiopeia.
How to toggle smart casting:
- While in-game, press ESC
- Go to Key Bindings
- Scroll down and look for Smart Cast Spell 3.
- Then rebind your E ( Twin Fang) to the Smart Cast Spell 3.
Personally I smart cast all my skills except my R. But in the cases of when I play a LeBlanc, even my R is smart-casted.
Your core item build:
As many can see, I didn't include Catalyst the Protector into Rod of Ages, making her into the glass cannon that she really is. With this build you can play her like a Vlad would and never going home, capitalizing on early game damage and map control.
The thing about Cassiopeia is that people often overlook Tear of the Goddess for her. She often has to cast Noxious Blast followed up by Twin Fang if she harasses, which immediately procs the Tear of the Goddess effect in one go. Not to mention since her Noxious Blast cooldown is relatively short, you can rest assured that every Q you press nets you additional mana, which when translated into end-game terms, lets you stay in the lane for the longest time without the blue buff when coupled with the spell vamp off Will of the Ancients.
Why Tear of the Goddess and not Catalyst the Protector, Y U MAKE CASS TOO SQUISHY?
With Tear you will and must play aggressively with Cassiopeia, using your Noxious Blast > Twin Fang at any target you can see. This, coupled with Will of the Ancients, will be your only source of HP throughout the game. Going back after a clash? Go grab dragon if its alive and vamp your health back to full. Not to mention you can directly convert your Tear into Archangel's Staff, but don't do so until the game drags on and you've bought your situational counter item (more on that below).
By the time you get Hextech Revolver you can solo the blue golem, which is around lvls 8-9 with 1-2 levels in Twin Fang and a maxed out Noxious Blast. Afterwards, once you have your Will of the Ancients, with your blue buff you can solo Dragon. DO NOT ATTEMPT to solo Dragon with only Hextech, your vamp against the dragon's damage will not sustain you and you will fight a losing battle.
Rabadon's Deathcap is a staple for all AP casters as it boosts your AP tremendously. With around 200 additional AP you can do 900 damage in a span of 3 seconds with your maxed Twin Fang. That's how ridiculous she is with her damage.
After forming your core, you can opt for your situational counters already. If there's a tank that formed Force of Nature, counter it with Void Staff. If there's someone who's constantly targetting you in clashes, form a Zhonya's Hourglass. If there's none of the above, feel free to convert your Tear of the Goddess into an Archangel's Staff. If you feel that you're taking too much AoE damage from the enemies, buy a Giant's Belt and convert it into a Rylai's Crystal Scepter. Being constantly disabled? Form a Quicksilver Sash or a Banshee's Veil if you opted for a Catalyst the Protector, or make a Rod of Ages if you want. After forming your core, you're the apple of everyone's eye, and will most probably now attract more attention than before, hence build against what the enemies might throw at you. Or better yet, build even more AP to kill those who want to kill you even faster.
Situational counter items to get after your core:
Void Staff Zhonya's Hourglass Banshee's Veil Quicksilver Sash
Luxury items if the game drags on too long:
Rylai's Crystal Scepter Guardian Angel Banshee's Veil Morello's Evil Tome Shurelya's Reverie Elixir of Brilliance
At the beginning of the battle you will want to grab Meki Pendant and 2 Health Potions no matter what lane you'll be in (except if you feel you're going to face a Blitzcrank, or any hero with a skillshot snare like Morgana and Lux, then grab Boots of Speed and 3 pots instead). When in a 1v1 lane, try to harass and farm at your safety with your Noxious Blast enough until you get 605 gold, in which case IMMEDIATELY go back to your base and form your Tear of the Goddess then tele back pronto. In a 1v2 scenario, do not waste your mana harassing. Instead, kill the creeps before they reach your tower. Noxious Blast on the ranged creep, and Twin Fang them down if need be. Brush check with your Miasma. Play very cautiously on a 1v2 scenario.
At this point with Tear of the Goddess you can now afford to play offensively (I'd advise against this when facing taunters, those who can fear, and burst). Whenever you land a single Noxious Blast follow it up with at least 1-2 Twin Fangs. Melee heroes will now play cautiously around you (applicable in a 1v2 scenario), but still be wary as you are outnumbered and will still die given the wrong move. But remember that your goal early game is to farm as fast as possible for your Hextech Revolver (into your Will of the Ancients) so you can solo anywhere you please (more importantly, Dragon). Your early game play will be all about harassing and active farming. DO NOT DIE, NOR ATTEMPT ANY KILL (all of these will happen late game). If there's a jungler like Warwick, Nocturne, Nunu, Master Yi, Xin Zhao, and ESPECIALLY an early Udyr play extra cautious, as they can be royal pains in the ***. Also, NEVER OVEREXTEND, as you can die easily when overwhelmed, where even your gaze can't save you. Although if you're matched with a hero who desperately wants your blood, wait until he faces you then do your Petrifying Gaze > Miasma > Noxious Blast > Twin Fang combo on him to net you a kill (or a first blood even).
Once you've farmed for your Hextech Revolver, head to your blue. If it isn't dead, KILL IT with Noxious Blast > Twin Fang spam (drop a Miasma for a poison buffer). Once you have the Crest of the Ancient Golem (aka blue buff), go back to your lane (if it's still that early into the game or your tower still stands) and spell spam until kingdom come. Throw Miasma onto your melee creeps to deny melee heroes last hits, Noxious Blast the ranged enemy hero and spam Twin Fang them until they bleed and cry. Net a kill if your enemy is foolish enough to fight you 1 on 1, as with gaze and your added AP, the fight becomes one sided. Although be wary of enemies with silence (aka Kassadin and Malzahar). But not Garen, he's a joke.
When mid game rolls around you should have already Tear of the Goddess, Boots of Speed and Hextech Revolver or Will of the Ancients with your blue buff. You can now join your team in organized ganks and dragon contestation. Always stay behind the team and let the initiator initiate. Wait for the opportune moment to land your Petrifying Gaze. Even if you just stun 1 it's a good enough stun since this portion of the game is all about ganks. After a successful gank (or dragon), get to your jungle and kill more minions to regain your life, or tele to another lane and clear that creep wave. As much as possible try not to go home, as you are leveling your Twin Fang at this point in the game. You can also be risky and steal their blue buff instead. Start earning gold for your Sorcerer's Shoes at this point.
Afterwards you should be now focusing on your Rabadon's Deathcap. Start with whatever component is available. Personally I rush Blasting Wand if I can't get Needlessly Large Rod even after a Dragon kill. Additional AP is still additional AP, and because Cass's damage is sustained, waiting for the money for a Needlessly Large Rod will hurt your chances in ripping the opponent to shreds during a clash when you could've added 40 AP otherwise.
Also, never leave base without at least 1-2 Sight Wards. As they say, Wards win games.
When late game rolls around, Cassiopeia can be a complete *******. If you feel brave and gung-ho, stay up front and land your very painful skill shots (do not do so if there's a Veigar, Urgot, Malphite, Orianna or any stunner up / displacer front). Chance a Petrifying Gaze (make sure you stun someone) if your team has no viable initiators. Just do this tactic if you still have Flash available so you can flash back and do your Miasma - Noxious Blast - Twin Fang combo. Otherwise hang back and land your gaze at the onset, or engage when the initiator has done his/her job and save your gaze for the enemy back row killers pops up (like Evelynn, Lee Sin, Twitch, etc).
Enemy Hero Matchups
I'll only post here certain enemies you need to watch out for:
First on your list:
Special Mention goes to: Mejai's Soulstealer, you know who to FF. Banshee's Veil can offset her combo.
And... Exhaust just for her. Her Death Lotus cannot be stopped by Petrifying Gaze, and a smart Katarina will most definitely aim for Cassiopeia's head during a clash, killing you in a mere 2-3 seconds, rendering your amazing DPS useless. In the off chance that you do not have Exhaust and any displacing / knock up hero like Alistar or Janna or Wukong, when Katarina does her Shunpo > Death Lotus combo, immediately Flash out of range. If your Flash is on CD, hope and pray your Spell Vamp and adequate AP can bring her down faster than she can do you. If you feel lucky, the moment she Shunpos into the fray, land a Petrifying Gaze prior to Death Lotus, and hope she dies first.
Undying Rage. A well built Cassiopeia can DPS Tryndamere down, but the difficulty here is once he's activated his Undying Rage. Within those 5 seconds he can opt to kill you, or attempt and run away. The best chance you have fighting against him is to save your Petrifying Gaze once he's activated Rage just to whittle down the 5 second chance he has to killing you, then chasing him down afterwards.
Ragnarok. Instead, try to kite him as he tries to get close to you, and use your Gaze if you're sure to kill him with it.
Noxious Blast, and save your Miasma when they unleash their everything on your face. Make them stand on poison and blast them with Twin Fang, and hope and pray to god your spell vamp can outlast their burst. Use your Petrifying Gaze if you think you can't kill them with your Twin Fang salvo. Save for Nocturne, run as far away as possible if he casts his Unspeakable Horror on you. If you survive after the fear duration, assess if you can turn the tide with Petrifying Gaze > Miasma > Noxious Blast > multiple Twin Fangs, otherwise save your ultimate for another clash.
Petrifying Gaze against them. In those 2 seconds, DPS them down. Drop a Miasma where you stand, or in clashes try to catch them with 1 Noxious Blast followed up by multiple Twin Fangs. Melee stealthers are more problematic due to your cone AoE, it might miss them if your aim is a little bit off, but ranged stealthers like Twitch are easier to catch with your gaze. Akali gets special mention here, do not gaze blindly into her Twilight Shroud. Even if she's stunned, she'll stay invisible.
- Tanks who made Force of Nature just to counter you
Annie can burst you down like a madman, so try to stay as far away as possible to avoid her Disintegrate > Summon: Tibbers > Incinerate > Ignite combo. Try to make her waste her Pyromania stun so she loses her effectiveness. Be wary of her as well in team clashes as she can utterly decimate you. Bruiser Sions are effective solo, but can be kited with your skills, while Tarics never roam alone and usually have company, so be wary.
Noxious Blast then Twin Fang, before dropping a Miasma where you stand prior to Twin Fanging them to death. Risky move, but your DPS output should handle it. Don't do this with Singed though, just drop a high level Miasma where he stands and run away, land a Noxious Blast and abandon all attempts of engaging, unless you're 100% sure you can kill him by the time he reaches you.
- Last but not least: Blitzcrank
I'll add to this section from time to time as I face other heroes with whom I've specifically had trouble dealing with.
In conclusion, Cassiopeia is a complicated hero to use. With this build, you'll be forced to play passively at the beginning of the fight, and aggressively in the end. The whole build centers on her being a glass cannon, and that's how she really is as a caster. Even if your other teammates are performing poorly, there's a chance to turn it around with her mid-game AP capabilities with Will of the Ancients and a Blasting Wand or a Needlessly Large Rod, and if you've been farming optimally, with your Rabadon's Deathcap.
Your only form of survivability comes in the form of Rylai's Crystal Scepter, which is a Luxury item for me. Consider this when you play Cass as you follow my build. Play her as you would a Lux, by being out of the fray whilst slinging spells left and right. And if you gain proficiency with her, you can play her by being in your face, tossing Twin Fangs at anyone who dare cross you.
Hopefully after reading my guide, and trying out my build (and after 10~20 deaths in the process), you get to appreciate playing aggressively as a caster who can decimate entire teams. Cassiopeia is an underrated hero who is oft overlooked, hopefully this time she gets the love she deserves.