Assistant Anivia, the Cryophoenix - by Anata Ga Mori

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This guide explains why and how you should play Anivia as an assistant. 

What it means to assist:
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An assistant is one who gets a lot of assists (obviously). More generally it means that you fill in gaps when you are needed or just provide that extra bit that results in your side winning an engagement. You maintain map presence and respond to requests for backup, or take over lanes when your allies get killed. In a PVP fight you will of course dish out damage but your priority is not to get kills yourself; it is to chip away at enemy health and control the field to ensure that your allies live and your enemies do not escape. Never avoid getting a kill - if you can kill an enemy yourself, of course you should. However, there are situations where everyone focusing on killing one low-health enemy allows other low-health enemies to escape, or gets allies killed in the meantime. With your stun and walls, you have many opportunities over the course of the game to alter the flow of battle. This should not be overlooked.

Teaming up with an ally can make for repeated easy kills and demoralize the enemy. It's a lot of fun when it works. That said, playing assist is not very glorious. People rarely appreciate high minion kills or high assist numbers the way they appreciate kills, because those numbers are not visible until the game ends, whereas kills are broadcast. You may even accused of being worthless by people who do not understand how assist builds work and who were not there to see the kills you helped happen. Ignore these taunts. You are helping your team.

For a decent game with cryo it will not be uncommon for you to have only 3-4 deaths, and double digit assists. Understand that in most of the cases you will be the one to whittle down 80% of the health but you will 
not deal the killing blow; you excel at harassment but in mid-game you do not have the burst damage to claim kills yourself. Call a hard-hitting ally to ensure that the opponent dies once they are low on health. As the game goes on longer you will be more able to afford the expensive AP gear and kills will be more plentiful. However, if you play Assist Cryo properly, there isn't really an end game, since the enemies will be demoralized by repeated mid-game ganking.

Here's what I'm talking about - 


Some of those numbers don't look very high because the enemies were so demoralized by repeated ganks that they quit the game/surrendered. The point I want to make is that your kill count is very low and that is NORMAL.

Assist Cryo only gets the killing blow under two conditions:

1. Early game, when nobody really has items and mistakes are fatal (enemies get stunned and damaged, and they're toast.)

2. Enemy incompetence. This includes:

2a. Enemy is bad at dodging flash frost (you follow up with a punishing combo and a few hits.)
2b. Enemy cannot perform simple maths (an opponent who is high damage and low hps may bet on you running out of hps first, and be wrong because you either outdamage him or have more hps)
2c. Enemy neglected to get magic resist gear by the time you have a high AP. (All late game kills fall into this category.)
2d. Enemy is somewhere he has no business being - trying to push or gank with low health, attacking a turret while you're around, etc.


In all other cases you will generally be the 
assistant to a more mobile hero with higher damage. Assassin types and stunners make wonderful ganking partners. Be happy when they close the deal.


Cryo has important weaknesses:

1. Low health. It's a mage.

2. Difficulty landing stun. An enemy familiar with your opening move can simply dodge it. Yes, it's got lots of range, but after everyone gets boots, you will rarely hit someone who is paying attention. Since you are a famously squishy target, and annoying to lane against, enemies will be watching you.

3. Needing both mana (to cast more often) and AP (to cast well). It's easy to burn through all your mana in seconds, but too little AP and your primary spell won't instakill minions.

4. Vulnerable to assassins - above and beyond the general low health/armor issue. Because your duty is continual farming, you will generally be at less than full health when they come to gank you. You are also a large, non-maneuverable target due to your atypical body shape. A sudden burst of damage will end you, and you have no real escape ability (wall doesn't prevent shunpo, leap, etc.)


That said, Cryo is good if you:

1. Enjoy farming/pushing/harassing

2. Like to engage the enemy from afar

3. Want to deny the enemy kills - the resurrection ability will generally save you as long as you can get to a friendly tower. As with all things, the more enemies are after your head, the lower your odds of survival.


Phases of the game:

Early game - MANA! You will run out of mana repeatedly. Try to time flash frost to hit when an enemy seems to be hanging about in the center back ranks of their squads, because that will rack up damage on them while you damage the minions.

(enemy)
xxx

ooo
ooo

xxx
(you)

Even if they notice you doing it, this helps set up an eventual gank - once the enemy has wised up and is regularly off-center, an assassin can come in from the side and ambush him, because he is that much closer to the grass.

Mid game - health. Your enemies will have gained their skillsets and boots. They will want to repay you for that early harrassment you did. You also need to fight closer to the enemy in order to use your secondary skill. Focus on staying alive and pushing your lane. Be wary of sudden ganks from enemies switching lanes.

End game - resistance. People will be tossing around loads of magical damage. Be sure you can take a few hits. This is where you shine again, since in the mass battles it's very hard to keep track of you and a surprising number of your stuns will land.

Skills, in order of priority:

1. Flash frost - AoE damage and a short stun. The best skill, hands down.
2. Frostbite - the follow-up to flash frost. Annoyingly short range but substantial damage if done right.
3. Crystallize - requires a lot of practice to get down, but you can prevent low hps enemies from making it to safety with this. As an assistant, this is CRUCIAL. You want to ensure that your walls are properly placed to save your allies and seal the fates of your enemies.
4. Glacial Storm - while this looks impressive, it has more use as an area slow than as pure damage. It has short range, meaning you'll have to close with the enemy to use it. It also cancels if you are stunned/silenced, which will occur with alarming regularity in PVP. Nevertheless it is still useful both in PVP and turret defense. Very often the threat of this is enough to make attackers break off and run away - after which you must cancel it, because it burns mana at an insane rate.


Gear:

You must build cryophoenix with some tank gear to compensate for the character's squishiness. However, too much of that and I really do become useless. It can be hard to find the balance. I would generally recommend ONE dedicated tank item, as more will cut sharply into your ability to deal damage.

I have listed the most easily identifiable items below. If you find yourself a bit short, buy the component items and finish the build later.

1. Doran's ring. The staff chose this one well. You need the AP and mana regen badly. If you want an early kill you could go with boots of speed, but the early kill will only work if your enemies make mistakes.

2. Boots of Speed -> Sorcerer's Boots or Ninja Tabi. You are a large, clumsy bird that desperately needs at least level 2 speed. The former add AP; the latter add survivability. If you choose Ninja Tabi, that is your one tank item. You are done with tank stuff; get mage powerups for the rest of the game. You will rely on hit points for the rest.

3. Amplifying book, if you got Ninja Tabi, or Ruby Crystal, if you got Sorcerer's Boots. 

4. Ruby -> Catalyst. It helps you stay in the field. If you didn't get the Ninja Tabi, and enemies are consistently targeting you, consider turning the ruby into Warden's Mail instead. This choice will hinder your damage because you've just sunk a large amount of gold into hps/armor, but it will pay off as you die less often in PVP. 

If you have a lot of gold early on, take Catalyst all the way up to Rod of Ages. This must be done early or not at all, because the Rod takes 15 minutes to power up fully and nothing you do can speed the process along. The blast rod component is relatively expensive and you may need an incremental boost to mana before you dump such a large amount of gold into AP. If you want to push, consider Innervating Locket instead, which will help keep your screening forces alive. Late game, there are better options than Rod of Ages. 

5. Sheen -> Lich Bane. You'll probably have to buy the Lich Bane in parts. Get the Sheen first. It helps you land minion kills and you really need the AP.

5. Abyssal Scepter. By this time people will be forming groups and ganking. Pull your weight with increased damage. Alternatively, consider Rylai's Scepter to punish anyone who didn't get a Veil by now with its annoying slow property.

6. Glacial Shroud -> Frozen Heart. As if you weren't burning through mana fast enough. The game really ought to end while you're on your 5th major item.

In general: 

Gold gen - at most one. Best to have zero. Gold is generated when you get kills, and gold going into +gold generation is gold that should instead be going into AP. You will eventually need to sell the gold gen item to free up a slot for a more powerful item.

Health regen
 - one. Survivability in PVP is a matter of anticipation and hit point gear, not hit point gen.

Mana regen - as many as you like. You will never be able to keep up with your mana consumption.

Remni has an 
excellent guide that suggests Frozen Mallet. It's great in theory but in PVP you aren't really going to be autoattacking - too much of your survival depends on staying a long way away from the pointy swords of the enemy. If you have superb micro control, give it a try.


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