The True Glass Canon Kassadin - by Sniperness

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The True Glass Cannon Kassadin: Stacking AP Like It's Your Birthday

DISCLAIMER: Yes the recent patch has outdated a few things in this guide, particularly the item build and the importance of Mejai's Soulstealer in it. I, however, had the majority of this guide done pre-patch and didn't want my hard work to go to waste. Please note that almost everything in this guide still applies to post-patch gameplay. I just need to tweak the items a little bit. If you would like to provide feedback on the pre-patch version of the guide, please make sure your suggestions bear in mind pre-patch gameplay! I will update the guide soon, don't worry. Again, nearly everything else in this guide besides the Mejai's soulstealer is valid!!!
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DISCLAIMER 2: Yes, this guide is extremely long. It covers everything. You're welcome. =P

Table of Contents:
General Overview:
------Definition of terms
------Build Statement
------The Final Product
------Strengths of this build
------Weakness of this build
------Comparison to other builds
------Masteries
------Runes
Laning:
------Who to lane with
------Who to lane against
Items/Gamplay:
------Starting Items
------------Starting Mindset
------------Do's and Dont's
------Skill Build
------------Justification
------Tear of the Goddess
------------Mindset
------Mejai's Soulstealer
------------Mindset
------------Do's and Dont's
------Zhonya's Ring
------------Mindset
------Archangel's Staff
------Shoes
------Optionals
------HP vs. Mana
------Condensed Item Tree
Strategy/Tips:
------Tips for staying alive
------Mindgames
Conclusion



General Overview:
Kassadin is a highly mobile caster who has both strong and versatile spells, as well as a relatively strong physical attack. He has a good movement speed and his Riftwalk spell, hands down, serves more different functions than any other skill in the game. He lanes well with several different characters and becomes effective at farming gold as the game progresses, even though he begins as one of the worst farmers of the game. He has similar characteristics of a carry, being both extremely weak at dealing damage and tanking hits early in the game. His damage output, however, drastically increases with time and, by mid-game, a well-played Kassadin can deal tremendous amounts of spell burst damage. Since three out of four of his spells receive AP damage boosts and since not a single of his spells cooldowns reach over 9 seconds, it makes perfect sense for Kassadin to focus on becoming one of the strongest casters on your team, which is what this build will teach you how to do. 

Definition of Terms I will be using:
“The combo:” Riftwalk ? Force Pulse ? Null Sphere (or Riftwalk ? Null Sphere ? Force Pulse)
Hit-and-retreat (HR): Launching the combo and retreating immediately after, waiting for your Force Pulse to re-charge.
Rift-stacking: To stack riftwalks either as fast as you can, and/or without particular care to conserving mana. 

Other Terms:
Rift-spacing: Timing your riftwalks as to use them as quickly as possible while not stacking the buff (i.e. spacing the buffs apart from one another). A riftwalk buff lasts seven seconds and this technique is mainly used for positioning/covering ground quickly. (e.g. Getting back to your lane quickly, from town, while your teleport spell is on cooldown.)

Rift-stalling: Timing your riftwalks as to use them as delayed as possible while stacking the buff. A
prime example for using this technique is to try and gank someone. Rift-stall from your
lane up/down to the middle and then launch a combo on to the guy for extra damage. 

Although I don't use these other two terms in the guide, I think that they are important to know. I've included the definition of each term as a brief description of when to be using them. I'm sure you will all come to know in time how to use your riftwalks properly. The above two just quickly introduce you to two ways.

Build Statement:
To develop a powerful burst-damage caster whose primary functions for the team include:
-inflicting heavy damage repeatedly through HR tactics. 
-being a highly mobile ganker and chaser/finisher of straggling enemy heroes.

The Final Product:
-Roughly 425-500 AP with potentials up to 650+ depending on game duration
-Maxed mana, somewhere around 2500
-Very low HP, somewhere around 1300
-No HP regen
-Limited mana regen
-No cooldown reduction
-No armor/magic resist
-Mild magic penetration, 15-35.

NOTE: Don't get discouraged seeing more "no's" in the above list. Not every bullet is of equal value and in fact the maxed mana and amount of AP vastly outweigh every negative combined in the final product.

Strengths of this build: 
-Potential to deal the highest amount of burst damage in shortest amount of time than any other character in game.
-Attains maximum mana pool very quickly compared to other heroes, most of whom, (if not all,) don't even reach it.
-Incredibly mobile and hard to chase/gank
-Very good at chasing opponents
-Very good at setting up ganks

Weaknesses of this build:
-Possibly the lowest HP in the game
-Extremely prone to stuns and silences
-Extremely mana intensive

Comparison to other builds:
Before I begin, I would like to give a bit of background on other theories and builds and compare the effectiveness of different Kassadin strategies. I have found that most other guides chose to invest in a tankier Kassadin. The reasoning is two-fold. He is so bad at laning, especially early on, that the extra HP saves you countless trips to base and keeps you leveling up. He is one of the squishier characters in the game and investing in HP will help you not only live/escape in fight and ganks, but stay around longer to deal more damage. In particular, Catalyst the Protector seems to be a very common choice for many Kassadin players. Don't get me wrong, the logic behind this is completely valid. I have tried it myself and it serves its purpose honorably. The HP and MP boosts from leveling really do help you stay in lane longer and keep farming/leveling while near the end game the added health, especially if you've upped your Catalyst into a Rod of Ages, (which most guides suggest near end-game), does increase survivability, allowing for increased opportunities at damage output. While it seems like a very good choice to invest in Catalyst or any other HP item, I strongly discourage it. The reason is that while HP helps you sustain damage, Kassadin's true survivability is actually his mana pool, not his max HP. We need as much mana to be able to riftwalk away to safety, especially after having spent a good chunk of it in a major team fight or gank or pushing an enemy turret. The higher your mana pool, the more rift-stacks you can endure when smacked-up Master Yi pops out of nowhere to beat you down for taking out one of his turrets. A more in depth explanation of this will be provided later on, for now, just know that this builds theory focuses on riftwalk for survivability over HP for survivability.

Masteries: 
9/0/21

Can't remember exactly where they go but it's pretty obvious with Kassadin. Make sure to get the magic penetration for offense and Utility master (increases neutral monster buff duration) for utility.

Runes:
All runes of force (X amount of AP per level). Never get the other one, which just gives you a set amount of AP for the whole game. The runes of force catch up to the other ones at around level 10 and you spend much more playing time from level 10 and on than you do reaching level 10 so runes of force are far superior. There's also discussion about using HP quintessences, but it's difficult for me to give up a solid 22 AP.

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Laning:

Laning is a very important part of the early game in League of Legends. Most people tend to randomly chose a lane or just take up the last free spot. However, it's very important to lane with people who make up for your weaknesses as well as compliment your strengths. Likewise, it's important to be mindful of who you are laning against. You don't want to stay in a lane where you are being constantly harassed and can't get any farming done. Preferential partners and champions to stay away from are listed and explained below.

Who to lane with:
BLITZCRANK: I don't care if there's a Soraka on your team. Blitzcrank and Kassadin are an insanely effect duo. This is how an ideal face-smashing session would go for you guys. Rocket grab ? Riftwalk ? Null Sphere/Power Fist ? Overdrive/Force Pulse ? (if necessary Rift-stack/Static Field Active.) My friend plays Blitzcrank and we get soooo many kills early in the game when we're in sync. Blitzcrank's combo is great for quickly finishing up your force pulse charges and you have riftwalk and Null Sphere in case you need an extra two. Just make sure to always keep your charge to at least 2, 3 to be safe in case your Blitz misses a key (or is a nub and doesn't overdrive or something), and you'll never go wrong.

Soraka: If there's no Blitzcrank on your team my next preferred laning partner is Soraka. I'm all about making gold and leveling as fast as I can, (duh?). Blitz helps you the most with that by setting up insanely good killing opportunities. Soraka however just gives you infinite mana and HP while at the same time charging your pulse extremely quickly. What more could you ask for? Well...see: "BLITZCRANK," but yeah, you get the point.

Taric: More spam-able spells to charge up your force pulse and a very good healer.

Eve/Karthus: Spaming of Hate Spike and Lay Waste will keep your force pulse constantly up and running. Plus Eve's stun could help you get a kill while Karthus's wall is handy for both offense and
defense.

Avoid: Last hitters, non-spell spammers, other melee champions. (Master Yi and Warwick are probably the worst champions you could lane with.)

Who to lane against:
There is no one as outstanding for Kassadin to lane against as there is for him to lane with like Blitz or Soraka. Some criteria to look for include the following, listed in decreasing priority:
-Someone who spams a good amount of spells to charge up your force pulse (Karthus, Eve)
-A non-healer (force pulses go to waste when opponents can just heal them off)
-Another melee champion (less harass for you while being an easier opponent to kill)
-Someone squishy (again, easier to kill/harass)

Avoid: Veigar (Hardcounters you. He harasses better, he stuns, he steals your AP and uses it against you, and his Ult deals huge, instant damage plus even more damage based on your mana pool, [which is extremely high.])

NOTE: Who to lane with almost always takes priority over who to lane against. I'd lane with Blitzcrank no matter what, even if the other team could somehow have two Veigars, lol. An exception to this rule is when you're laning against a Veigar with a partner of anyone besides Soraka or Blitzcrank.

Items/Gameplay:
Finally we've reached the only part that 99% of the people who read guides really care about: the item build. This section of the guide will have more of a “real-time” kind of feel and that's why I've included gameplay in this section also. (You need to know how to actually use the items you buy!) I will be describing how your item build should be progressing throughout the game as well as the various mindsets you should have and what you should be doing at each stage of the game. 

Starting Items:
-Sapphire Crystal
-2 Health Potions (If you're laning with Soraka, no HP pots are necessary. With Taric I bring 1 since he'll run out of mana eventually)

Starting Mindset:
You're the most pathetic hero in the game. Why did they even create you? You can't do ****. Your Null Sphere takes like 5 years to hit the target, you have low HP, no AP, a slow attack, and people make fun of you for being a Darth Vader groupie. All in all, you suck. Be afraid and play defensively. 

Do's and Dont's:
-Don't harass with Null Sphere unless the enemy has no recovery items and healers with them. It's just mana going to waste.
-Don't go ahead of the melee creep line to harass with a Null Sphere. You'll just end up taking mad creep aggro.
-Instead, use Null Sphere mainly to get last hits on creeps.
-Always stay behind your creeps
-Don't try to gank or go for a kill yet, it's not going to work

Skill Build:
1.Null Sphere
2.Force Pulse
3.Force Pulse
4.Nether Blade
5.Force Pulse
6.Riftwalk
7.Force Pulse
8.Null Sphere
9.Force Pulse (Max)
10.Null Sphere
11.Riftwalk
12.Null Sphere
13.Null Sphere (Max)
14.Nether Blade
15.Nether Blade
16.Riftwalk (Max)
17.Nether Blade
18.Nether Blade (Max)

Justification:
The reason your first point goes into Null Sphere is for the early harass and last-hit opportunities. Force pulse is not a good choice yet as it will be taking way too long to charge up this early in the game. After your first point in Null Sphere, go ahead and start maxing Force Pulse. Force Pulse is going to be your main source of damage so we need to get this maxed as soon as possible. At level 4, you're forced to pick a different skill. Some people chose to get another Null Sphere, but I think one point of Nether Blade is much more useful. One point of Nether Blade gives you about 10 mana a hit on the artillery creeps and about 8 per hit on the casters. That adds up fast and keeps your mana up for a much longer time. 

Tear of the Goddess: +350 Mana +5 Mana Regen per 5 sec UNIQUE Passive: Each time your Champion uses an Ability their Maximum Mana will increase by 4 Mana, up to a maximum of twice in a six second period; bonuses cap at +600 Mana. 

As soon you hit 580 gold, port back to town and upgrade your Sapphire Crystal into a Tear of the Goddess. This is probably one of the most important items Kassadin needs regardless of what build he is using and I'm shocked that some Kassadins don't get it. This item is the core of your mana pool. Without it you are going to have up to 950 mana less at the end of the game! I can't stress enough how important it is to get this item as soon as you hit 580 gold. Even if you are at full health and mana, port back and get this item.

Mindset:
By now you should be a little bit stronger and depending on who your lane partner is and how good he is you may want to try to go after an enemy champion in your lane. Depending on how well you've been farming and if you have a kill/assist or not, you should be between levels 4-7. Riftwalk is pretty much the determining factor on how aggressive you should be. If you have it, go for the ganks and kills. If you don't, farm a bit more and then consider going after someone. Remember, Riftwalk is also your ticket out of sticky situations so don't be afraid to pursue a bit farther out than most other enemy heroes would if it means potentially getting a kill but make sure to keep an eye on your available mana. You should always try to keep 100 mana available at all times. Don't blow a Force Pulse just to harass if it means you lose the ability to Riftwalk for a short time. You never know when someone is about to round the corner and gank you and smart enemies will keep an eye on your mana bar and let their teammates know when you're at your weakest. 


Meja's Soulstealer: +70 Ability Power UNIQUE Passive: On champion kill, you permanently gain 10 Ability Power and steal all of their mana. On champion assist, you permanently gain 5 Ability Power. Maximum of +70 Ability Power from this passive. 

This is a peculiar item in that some people totally underestimate it while at the same time others completely overestimate it. Let me tell you that for Kassadin, this item will be one of your smartest investments. It has three very important characteristics. The first is that it gives you a huge chunk of AP right off the bat for pretty cheap. 70 AP will almost instantly brings you to the forefront of burst-damagers on your team if you aren't there already. The second, with every kill/assist you get, not only do you get the usual monetary and experience bonuses, but you get even more AP, further separating the gap between you and your enemies' power. The third function is that you steal all of your opponent's mana if you manage to kill them. This becomes incredibly handy after blowing tons of mana chasing someone down to finish them off or after a major team battle has died off and you happen to be one of the survivors running for your life. Do not underestimate this ability of the Soulstealer. It's crucial to your survivability and offensive mobility. 

Mindset:
Congratulations, you've just been promoted to Sergeant Rape. Time to show everyone what you're made of and get back at them for being so mean to you at the start of the game. One taste of your combo and they'll be sorry they ever started playing this game. Depending on how many runes you also have you should be even more scary to face. Play very aggressively. If an enemy champion thinks they're safe hugging a tower, boy have they got another thing coming. Your combo can be pulled off for an easy 500+ damage while taking only two tower hits. Use this to your advantage to punish weakened heroes who don't go back to their base right away! If you've taken flash with you, don't be afraid to use it to chase enemies deep past their first towers if it means getting a kill. You should also be going for the golemn buff whenever you can. Try to go for it when your teleport spell is up since it will take a very big chunk of your health off getting it and you'll need to go back to town right away.

Do's and Dont's:
-O.k., so you're much strong than before, you're not God. Don't go trying to land a combo into a crowd of three stunners.
-Don't Rambo towers. Your basic dps is pathetic and any good team will come up from several different sides and gank you before you even make a dent.
-Don't initiate team fights. I know it's tempting when you're sitting at a force pulse charge of 5 to riftwalk in and launch your combo but that will probably be the last thing you do once the rain of focus fire/stuns/disables wipes the floor with you before your riftwalk cooldown finishes and sends you back to town for a minute.
-Separate off a little bit from the group in obvious upcoming team fights (tower pushes, etc.) You don't want to be there when a Malphite storms your crew or a Veigar drops a dark matter onto all of you in the middle of the confusion. Hide a little off to the side and when your force pulse is ready, HR quickly and cleanly. Riftwalk lets you be a part of the battle, while keeping you away from it.
-Get the golemn buff as much as possible.

Zhonya's Ring: +500 Mana +100 Ability Power UNIQUE Passive: Increases Ability Power by 25% 

The next item in your list. In and of itself it grants you 125 AP and 500 mana. It's passive effect will give you even more depending on how many kills/assists you've gotten on your soulstealer. It costs a lot so it will take some time to get it but it will also be your best deal in terms of money spent to AP received. After you've completed it your combo will do an insane amount of damage and you'll have a very handy 500 bonus mana to riftwalk around with. 

Mindset:
Alright just go around killing people. You're the hardest G around and no one should ever mess you in a 1v1 fight, possibly even 2v1. (Don't take me too seriously on this.) No, but, seriously, at this point the game is pretty much all teamfighting anyways so yeah just be a solid and smart contributor with your HR-ing. Never, ever, ever, initiate fights. You will almost certainly die from just a single stun or silence. Be a team player and you should do well. Make sure to chase stragglers and soloists pushing lanes and finish them off. No one does it better than you.



Tear of the Goddess --> Archangel's Staff: +400 Mana +25 Mana Regen per 5 sec +45 Ability Power Passive: 2% of your Max Mana is converted to Ability Power. UNIQUE Passive: Each time your Champion uses an Ability their Maximum Mana will increase by 4 Mana. This effect has a 3 second cooldown. 

Usually your last item unless the game takes very long. At this point your mana should be either maxed or nearly maxed so upgrading into the Archangel's Staff will give you a very nice +90-105 extra AP and an extra 25% on top of that after applying Zhonya's unique passive. 

Uhh...where the hell are the shoes?
Some of you may rightfully be wondering why I didn't include shoes. I actually do buy shoes but it varies so much with every game when I get them that I didn't include them in the list. It really depends when you need to get them. Most people are probably thinking as early as possible for the magic penetration but it's usually actually for the speed. Although riftwalk is an amazing escape tool, it has a 4 second cooldown. That might not seem like much but multiple slowers make it extremely hard to gain any real ground against them. Ashe, for example, gives Kassadin a really hard time. Her arrow still hits you after you riftwalk away and she'll just keep chasing you down and launching another one before you can cast out of her range. When/if you do manage to get away from her, an enemy team member will most likely have come to finish you off. If this is the case, I get Boots 1 right after my Mejai's Soulstealer, maybe even in between building it. (e.g. finish Tear, buy Blasting wand, get boots, finish soulstealer.) If you don't really anticipate people chasing you down to be a problem but the enemy is heavily stacking magic resist go ahead and get them a little bit later. (After Soulstealer/during building Zhonya's.) If none of these are happening then don't even bother. Get them after your Archangel's staff. AP/Mana > Speed/Spell Penetration.

Optionals:
If the game just keeps dragging on there are some final choices available.
-Rylai's Scepter - 80 AP, and lets Null Sphere and Riftwalk slow the target (making chasing even more easy), HP is a plus, (I guess...)
-Lichbane (Preferred) – 80 AP and your next physical attack gains additional damage equal to your AP. Since you'll be looking at 600 AP by this point thats a 700 damage whack of your blade + another 1300+ from your combo. Can you say beast? (Oh and it happens every 3 seconds, can you say beast one more time?)

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HP vs. Mana:

Alright so I said I would cover this later. Most guides out there strongly recommend Catalyst the Protector, eventually being upgraded into Rod of Ages. No! Yes, Rod of Ages does have some all around amazing stat coverage. Yes, Catalyst the Protector is great for staying in your lane longer. Yes, the extra HP could be a lifesaver. Still no! I can't emphasize enough how important it is for Kassadin to have extra mana rather than extra HP. The enemy will want your blood after realizing how much burst damage you're capable of doing. They'll chase you to the ends of the earth when they see a low HP bar on top of you. Extra HP will not help you run away more. It will just let you take a few extra whacks and spells. With extra mana however, you will be able to gain so much more distance riftwalking. Riftwalk's mana cost adds up insanely fast. You need to have as large a mana pool as possible to be able to make it safely back to your allies/base. Also, keep in mind. A lot of enemies have slow abilities. The extra HP becomes useless when you're slowed. Slowing against a riftwalk-capable Kassadin though is MUCH less effective. Tear of Goddess, Zhonya's Ring, and Archangel's staff all give you huge stores of MP. Don't underestimate the value of mana and overestimate the vaue of HP. It will get you killed!

Condensed Item Tree:
-Sapphire Crystal + 2 HP Pots
-Sapphire Crystal --> Tear of the Goddess
-Mejai's Soulstealer
-Zhonya's Ring
-Tear of the Goddess --> Archangel's Staff
(See above for shoes)


Strategy/Tips:
So now that we know what items to get and what should theoretically happen when playing, I've included a brief section on some specifics regarding general strategy.

Tips for staying alive:
-Be stingy with your mana! Don't riftwalk just because you can. Sooner or later you will get ambushed and you'll run out of mana and get killed and probably type “omfg I would have lived if I had just listened to Sniperness and didn't waste my mana riftwalking because it's so much fun lawl” and your team will be like “shut up noob” and then you'll freak the **** out and ragequit and suicide into enemy towers all because riftwalking was so much fun.

-Position yourself near walls when in team fights. If things go bad you can riftwalk across the wall creating a much higher traveling distance for your enemies to get to you as well as having them lose vision of you.

-Stay near the outside edges of the map when pushing the first tower early game. If you see the gank coming/the mia doesn't get called you can riftwalk into the brush. As long as you don't attack or use skills inside the brush the enemy can't attack you until someone gets in there. This could give you enough time for your riftwalk to cooldown allowing you to make it safely back to your turret/the other patch of brush, especially if you've pushed kind of far into the lane. This is also very effective because most enemies will cut the corner and head you off, waiting for you to pop out on the other side. After you don't appear they will start to enter the brush and you just riftwalk pass them, (be sure to silence them first so they don't stun you or something)

-Force pulse!! Force pulse is a great defensive weapon! It slows anyone in the cast area by up to 50% for 3 seconds. That's a huge amount of slow for you to be able to gain some ground, cooldown your riftwalk, and get away. It takes a lot of self-discipline to be able to turn around and cast a force pulse when your HP bar is sitting at 100 instead of continuing to spam right click to your tower but you need to learn when to do it when someone is hot on your trail. I find this tactic the most useful when I'm low on mana and/or have stacked too many riftwalks and can't cast it again for 7 seconds! Force pulse them and make good your escape. Use force pulse to save your allies too! They will love you for it.

Mind-games:
I play Super Smash Bros. so I like this term a lot. Although it's applications to this game are still fairly limited, Kassadin does make use of it in three key ways that I'd like to share in the last section of this guide.

-Running away (or are you?): So you've just entered a scuffle with another champion and it seems as if you're losing. You proceed to riftwalk away like a wimpy baby when what happens? Oh no! You've suddenly reversed directions on your riftwalk and are now up in the enemies face with the buff stacked to 5 and a fully charged force pulse. gg

-Actually running away: Run into completely random places. Lead your perusers into Baron and then riftwalk across the wall. They'll never catch you after that. Riftwalk around the corner and then BACK into enemy territory on the other side. They'll keep chasing you towards your own base. Riftwalk into the brush and stay there. When an enemy comes looking for you, riftwalk past him into a different patch of brush! Not only does this work but it's freaking hilarious.

-Team fights: General overview first: In team fights, someone will usually initiate if they feel like by doing so they will win the up and coming battle. Two of the best examples I can think of are Malaphite using his ult into a crowd and Blitzcrank rocket-grabbing an enemy into your crowd. Both of these immediately tip the scales into your favor since in the first case, multiple opponent's become stunned, while in the second case one opponent becomes helplessly focus fired down. Where am I going with this? One of your responsibilities for the team is to help “initiate” team fights in the sense that you make the enemy wrongfully initiate team fights. Make it seem as if you aren't there! Wait in the brush, behind enemy lines, or around the corner somewhere. It will seem as if your team is undersized and the enemy will feel confident and overextend. That's when you instantly appear by your team's side and launch a devastating combo against their whole team while silencing their main support/caster for a good 3 seconds!

Conclusion:
If you've read this whole thing, you're probably thinking, “FINALLY!” Don't worry, I'm done. I thank everyone who did take the time to read this and I also welcome any and all constructive feedback. I am currently experimenting with a new build and also still adjusting to the latest patch so I will update this guide ASAP. (Finals week though so it'll have to be after that.) Again, thanks everyone and have fun owning up with Kassadin!


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