Kassadin Build Guide by Abarlum
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The balance of power must be preserved.
Or something like that anyway. If you play this the way I tell you to, you might argue Kassadin as wrecking balance.
Kassadin is an assassin mage. You can build him as more of a standard mage, or even an AD build can be good if you feel like trolling your team, but at his core, Kassadin is a glass cannon, get in get out assassin that has some of the best escape, and therefore survivability, in the game.
IMPORTANT: If you do not feel comfortable snowballing Mejai, I would recommend a different champion. You will end up building Kassadin more similarly to a standard mage, and, well, the standard mages are better at that and you might as well play one of them instead.
Finally, you might have seen the item build or the mastery build and rune build and thought "holy **** this build is ******ed." If you thought that, but the idea of a super glass cannon Kassadin intrigues you, I beseech thee, read the guide anyway. The playstyle I will describe in this build makes sense for the way I build Kassadin, it is not correct for the more sturdy Kassadin builds, but it is the correct way to play Kassadin as far as I'm concerned.
Enjoy, leave a comment if you have any questions.
Max Q max E, W last and R when possible.
Some people like getting W at 4 for better lane sustain, but since you get Tear of the Goddess first your sustain is generally pretty good, as long as you lane as I will describe later.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Ability Power
Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power
Greater Quintessence of Scaling Ability Power
MPen red, obvious choice.
Flat AP yellows, so you have some (even if it is a small amount) of extra AP at level 3, which is when you start harassing. (5.31 AP from the yellows, vs 2.7 if you got AP/lvl yellows).
AP/level blues and quints. With this setup unless the person you're laning against has the same rune setup as you, you will match a Doran's ring AP by level 4 or 5 (don't remember exactly), and we are building for mid/late game so AP/Level are better.
NEW MASTERIES OH BABY
I'm not sure I would build many other casters this way: I have a 9/0/21 for Xerath I'm playing around with for instance. But this is probably the best thing that could happen to Snowballin' Glassadin.
We can go 21 into offense and keep getting more damage!!!
So, the choices are obvious. +4 AP from tier 1, CDR from tier 2, Mpen/+1.5% damage from tier 3, AP/lvl from tier 4, +5% AP (yessss)from tier 5, and then 6% damage on low health targets (aka assassin mastery) from tier 6.
In utility we take Expanded Mind and 1 improved recall in tier 1. Then we go to tier 2 and get 3 meditation. 0.5% run speed isn't really worth it so I ended up putting the other point into 4% less dead time in tier 1. I did this instead of improved flash because I'm not going to take flash anymore, and instead of ward sight range increase because someone else is warding when I play. You can move that point around as you wish it isn't really important. Buff mastery in tier 3.
Why not improved cleanse? doesn't reduce cooldown so it is pretty much useless. If you get CC'd again that quickly after you used cleanse and presumably riftwalked out you're going to die anyway so an extra second of slightly reduced duration of CC effects won't matter much.
Why not improved ignite? you'd be trading 1 AP from the mastery for 5 AP when you use ignite, a net gain of 4 AP. Pretty insignificant and you're down an AP the rest of the time.
- However, if you take Surge instead of Ignite this would be worth the point. The increase in AP you get when you use surge would definitely be worth losing 1 ap for the rest of the time.
I take Cleanse and Flash. These are not (strictly) mandatory for Kassadin. Consider taking some other summoner spells if you want to play differently than me, but still in general be a glass cannon:
Remember when I said this isn't mandatory? I pretty much lied. I would never, EVER play Kass without cleanse. Do they have a stun and you're low on hp? Cleanse + Riftwalk = you're not dead anymore. Slowed and Riftwalk stacks are a bit too high to cast it for a few seconds? Cleanse it to buy some time. Especially in Season 2, when Cleanse removes Ignite and Exhaust... when I heard the news I about ****ed myself.
I take Flash because I like having range 1225 blink. You might not want this. I find it ridiculously useful for chasing down people in the middle of their lane, or through the jungle, for that CLUTCH BARON STEAL AND YOU STAY AILVE or in general for a D-D-D-Double Juke (It ' s super effective !!). The only people who will be able to catch you if you take Flash are other Kassadins with Flash, or anybody if you're being chased from their nexus back to yours (but why would you be doing that?). This I would say is OK to remove since, well, you already have a spammable, longer-range Flash built into your skills.
In season 2 the range of flash will be reduced. I have a feeling I won't want to use it much anymore since Riftwalk will take up a much larger area relative to new Flash so your escape and chase will actually improve compared to everybody else.
Actually, I prefer ignite now that I've tried it. I won't be using flash anymore but this reasoning would still apply
I don't take this but I have thought about replacing Flash for it, and I may in Season 2 depending how the nerf is (though I would imagine for the jungle steals/extra wall jump I might keep it anyway). You would want to take Ignite if you're laning against a Vladimir for some reason, or if you want to be really aggressive in general and get those mad ganks. Since I don't run with this I don't have anything constructive to say.
So I've played a couple games with Ignite instead of Flash now and I'm convinced. Maybe it is just me but far too often I leave people at 10 hp due to bad luck or what have you (literally at least once per game) so this pretty much gets rid of all of those cases, and helps you kill stuff when people are being healed. Winning forever.
New mastery. I haven't used it and probably won't because I absolutely love Ignite now but this would basically accomplish the same thing in a slightly harder to anticipate way. By that I mean you know exactly how much damage ignite will do, but this increases your ability power by a percentage, then you have to consider the AP ratio, and the target's Magic Resistance. After a while you would develop a feel for this but since this is about the same as ignite I don't see why I would need to learn this.
This seems even more pointless than Flash since you already have a teleport, and jumping over walls is better than running faster (especially since you're going to be mid). But, if you think you're going to be roaming a hell of a lot, this may be worth it.
No. Bad. Low summoner level play only (i.e. before you get cleanse)
I guess if NOBODY ELSE ON YOUR TEAM TAKES THIS then you probably should. But why are you playing with people that don't take Clairvoyance and expect Kassadin to have it?
If you are worried about getting chased by an AD carry I suppose this would be OK. If you take this then move the point from the Crit chance mastery into the improved exhaust (duh). But since you can teleport forever away instantly, you shouldn't need this for AD carries, and mages you can just silence.
I would be extremely hesitant to take this skill as Kassadin because you can very quickly teleport through the jungle. you wouldn't get very many more tower saves or ganks than you already would because of your sick mobility. But if one or two a game are worth it for you, by all means go for it.
I would not take this.
Ah yes the part that explains all the nonsense up above.
To elaborate upon the introduction, this is skirmish Kassadin. If you stay in range of any CC or damage dealers for more than the cooldown of Riftwalk, you'd better be winning that teamfight or they will focus you and you will die horribly, losing your precious stacks. To the same end, you're not going to run up and trade hits in lane. That would be stupid. "Yo Abilities show 'em what I mean bro":
You will be playing Kassadin mid. Champions you REALLY REALLY DONT want to lane against are Talon, Malzahar* (fuuuu suppress gank), Xin Zhao (not that he would be mid), Graves.
Malzahar isn't that bad of a lane if you can get him scared of you. Try to have your jungle put pressure on him early and often, and harass him more than you would other champions. This should keep him back, and never stay within Flash + Nether Grasp range. Harass later by Riftwalk + Null Sphere and backing off immediately, early on this is far too mana-consuming to be worthwhile. Also, if you are really on your game/he is predictable, when he flashes up to suppress you if you get off a Null Sphere to end his channel then you just won your lane forever, in cool points as well as he probably won't try that **** again.
You would RATHER NOT lane against a GOOD Brand, a GOOD Morgana, a REALLY GOOD Xerath, Nidalee, Vayne, Ezreal... (generally ranged AD champions can be a pain in your purple ***, and yes AP or Hybrid Ezreal counts for this if the summoner playing him is smart enough to be aggressive in harassing you. Also, champions with heals are annoying as hell, like Vladimir and Fiddlesticks (sometimes)). You would also rather not lane against Kassadin, because if he builds for more sustain/tanky you will almost certainly lose your lane unless he stops paying attention and lets you harass him for free.
You would LOVE to lane against almost any other AP carries, and obviously bad people playing any of the aforementioned champions (I've won lanes against bad Graves for instance). Ideally you're going to lane against Annie, Ryze, Veigar, or any of the other hilariously squishy casters. Karthus is Kassadin's wet dream, and Teemo isn't bad either since blinding dart doesn't affect you much. I would argue that Fiddlesticks also can be a super good lane for Kassadin, but it all depends on who gets the first harass. If you are able to harass him, then interrupt his drains with silence, you will walk over that scarecrow. If you let him drain just keep last hitting, he is basically Vladimir in this case.
Welcome to Summoner's Rift!
Anyhow, get your Sapphire Crystal and 2 pots and go to mid. If your jungle wants the leash at blue, sit in the 1 cell bush in the river until 1:50 then run up for the leash. Levels 1 and 2 you will just be last hitting creeps, do not push too much unless you're laning against a strong pusher you won't be able to harass as much later, like any of the ranged AD champs or the ones with heals. You want an early advantage against these guys. If you can't get last hits with your melee because it is Graves or Talon or something like that, use Null Sphere to last hit. It doesn't cost much mana now so don't worry about it.
At level 3, when you get rank 2 of Null Sphere, you will start harassing. ALWAYS back off after you harass, don't trade if possible. Nine times out of ten your enemy will back off and you can last hit for a little bit. If he is hard to harass, keep using Null Sphere to last hit. Last hitting is more important than harassing, but I would rather use my spell to harass after level 3 than last hit.
Depending on how well you are farming/how pushed your lane is, you may go back for Tear of the Goddess right away, or stay in your lane for a looong time. I have won lanes so hard that I end up with over 3000 gold when I go back for the first time, all while keeping my enemy off farm (good jungle ganks, Karthus, Teemo allow for this). Well, keep doing what you're doing until around level 7 or 8. If you have to go back early, don't hesitate to grab pots, and sight wardwards are always useful.
Note: Don't try using Force Pulse for harassment until it is level 3. It doesn't do that much damage and you'll just be wasting mana better spent on riftwalk or null sphere. Using it to get kills before then is obviously good, as is clearing a creep wave if they all end up pretty low and grouped up.
Chances are you won't lane against the same summoner every game, and even if you do he might not build the same way every time. My point is this: At least once every couple of levels, see how much you burst for after a few purple bouncy balls. Riftwalk in, Null Sphere and Force Pulse. If you end up doing enough damage you might get them to leave, but many squishy AP carries you would do that much damage to are also the same ones that will be over aggressive and stay in lane even after you just bursted them for 60% of their health. Smart summoners won't do this but sometimes people get tunnel vision or whatever.
Around 7 or 8 you probably have enough for Mejai's Soulstealer (which means Sorcerer's Shoes as well). This is where you make a decision. Are you going to be getting any ganks soon? No? Then get boots. Otherwise, I almost always get Mejai's first, because the earlier you get it, the more likely you will get a stack for every gank rather than missing some. Plus, with Riftwalk, run speed is less important if you remain vigilant.
Once you get Mejai's, push your lane as hard as you can while keeping around at least half of your mana. Once you push to the turret, decide which lane could use a gank and do it. If you've effectively harassed your lane, don't bother, just grab the kill in your lane and get some tower hits. Many people will think they are safe on their turret even if they're low; prove them wrong by riftwalking in, nuking them to death, and flashing out.
If your jungle does not need blue buff, ask him to help you take it when he can. This will allow for epic harassment with Riftwalk + Null Sphere for free.
Once teamfights start getting going, your role becomes that of the assassin. What I mean is, if there are 3 or more enemies, you will NOT do anything until your teammates engage and take a spell or two. Your burst is high enough that you can catch teams off guard most of the time and your team (and hopefully specifically you) will get a kill, netting you one or two stacks.
Try to hit as many as possible with Force Pulse, and always silence their casters first (unless the situation calls for a silence on Amumu or something like that). Try to save silence for champions like Nunu, Fiddlesticks (if you can interrupt Crowstorm that is great but if you can't, just stop his Drain and he will fall fast), Warwick, Malzahar, you know, channeling hugely important spells.
Your role also includes chasing down wounded champions when possible. For example, if Jax gets focused hard in the teamfight and escapes with 300 hp, leave the teamfight and chase the bastard down, unless your team lost a bunch of champions or something like that.
Once you get 20 stacks and Rabadon's Deathcap (my record for getting 20+deathcap was around 23 minutes IIRC) you can actually initiate, or go in and nuke carries before teamfights begin if flash is up. Only once have I actually two-shot a champion, most of the time it takes a riftwalk hit to finish them off. But you probably eventually will literally evaporate someone like Veigar and it will feel awesome. If flash is down and you see a carry on the edge of their team, nuke and run away. Basically don't jump into their entire team before your initiator if you don't have flash.
So, just hang around on the outskirts of battle and pick off wounded champions while silencing their mage carries. Your teammates might say "hey ******* stop ksing" but who cares what they think? When you can burst 2k damage at 30 minutes they will shut their mouths, and the enemy team will start complaining.
Fun Fact:I find that Brand players generally get more pissed off about the silence than any other champions.
If the other team is REALLY GOOD about warding up usual spots for you to lie in wait, or if they have a champion like Twitch, Shaco, Evelynn... feel free to grab Oracle's Elixir and knock out dem cloaked things.
You are really good at clearing creep waves pushing your lanes after you get the Needlessly Large Rod, because you can riftwalk all the way there faster than anybody without Teleport, then one shot the creep wave (literally) with Force Pulse. Nomnomnom
I saved this for last because it made more sense to explain the build ORDER after the gameplay section.
You want more mana and to stay in your lane. Pretty simple.
You need a lot of mana and the earlier you get this the more useful it will be.
--- If you manage to get a hell of a lot of ganks early (like if you somehow get matched against a bunch of people 200-300 ELO below you) you might not even need Tear, but if you do this you will have to use your mana far more carefully.
Here is the first choice you have to make. Do you want boots first or do you want soulstealer? They cost about the same amount of gold so that's not really a deciding factor. How do we decide which we want?
Well, if your team falls behind by a few kills pretty early, you are less likely to get a bunch of assists or kills anytime soon, so boots would be a better choice. If your team falls WAY behind, you don't even get Mejai's AT LEAST until after Deathcap, for the same reason.
You want this before any of your other core AP items, save for Mejai's. If you can afford it, get the Needlessly Large Rod first, but if you end up going back and you have 1200 gold or something just buy the Blasting Wand instead.
These are pretty much good to get in any order. I have been finding that most teams, once you start snowballing, will stack magic resist, so I usually get Void Staff first. Then I end up getting Archangel's Staff because by the time I can afford the next piece, my Tear of the Goddess is nearly fully stacked. Lich Bane is last, lots of times I won't even get to build this because games will end well in advance.
If I remember to do so, I will get Lich Bane before Archangel's Staff, because the extra burst is nice, and more importantly, BACKDOOR KASSADIN. You will be able to hit towers for literally 400 damage every 2 seconds if you get enough AP. However, I am more comfortable getting Archangel's Staff first so I usually just do that because it is second nature at this point.
Void Staff is obviously situational. If they all have some magic resist but not that much (below 100 or so) get Abyssal Mask instead. If only one or two of them have magic resist, and you don't need to focus them for whatever reason, don't even bother with Void Staff and grab something else:
REPLACEMENTS FOR VOID STAFF
If they have strong AD champions that are nearly as fed as you. Frozen Heart is probably better.
This I probably wouldn't get, but if their whole team is AP then this is probably worth it. I wouldn't get it because well, if they're doing magic damage, they're probably casting, which means that your Null Sphere takes care of that (for 2.6 seconds I might add).
If you want general survivability. I might be more inclined to take Will of the Ancients if you have another AP damage dealer on your team who doesn't take it for whatever reason.
If for some reason your highest priority target also has 3.2k health.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter is basically pointless on Kassadin because of Force Pulse. Don't bother.
This is definitely not an all-purpose build. If your team is doing really badly or has no early game potential, you can not build this way and expect to win unless their team feeds you super hard. If you can't do this build, just follow one of the other Kassadin guides that get items like Rod of Ages... basically build Kassadin as an Annie and play like Annie with better escape/chase.
However, when it does work...
Thanks for reading, please vote and leave a comment if you want to say anything at all.